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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2014 Sep;11(9):667-76. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2014.1744. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Source attribution of human salmonellosis: an overview of methods and estimates.

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1 National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark , Søborg, Denmark .


Reducing the burden of foodborne salmonellosis is challenging. It requires identification of the most important food sources causing disease and prioritization of effective intervention strategies. For this purpose, a variety of methods to estimate the relative contribution of different sources of Salmonella infections have been applied worldwide. Each has strengths and limitations, and the usefulness of each depends on the public health questions being addressed. In this study, we reviewed the source attribution methods and outcomes of several studies developed in different countries and settings, comparing approaches and regional differences in attribution estimates. Reviewed results suggest that illnesses and outbreaks are most commonly attributed to exposure to contaminated food, and that eggs, broiler chickens, and pigs are among the top sources. Although most source attribution studies do not attribute salmonellosis to produce, outbreak data in several countries suggest that exposure to raw vegetables is also an important source. International travel was also a consistently important exposure in several studies. Still, the relative contribution of specific sources to human salmonellosis varied substantially between studies. Although differences in data inputs, methods, and the point in the food system where attribution was estimated contribute to variability between studies, observed differences also suggest regional differences in the epidemiology of salmonellosis.

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