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Open Access Research article

Geographic variations and temporal trends of Salmonella-associated hospitalization in the U.S. elderly, 1991-2004: A time series analysis of the impact of HACCP regulation

Kenneth KH Chui1*, Patrick Webb2, Robert M Russell3 and Elena N Naumova1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

2 Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA

3 Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:447  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-447

Published: 3 December 2009

Abstract

Background

About 1.4 million Salmonella infections, a common food-borne illness, occur in the U.S. annually; the elderly (aged 65 or above) are most susceptible. In 1997, the USDA introduced the Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Systems (PR/HACCP) which demands regular Salmonella testing in various establishments processing meat products, such as broiler chickens. Impact evaluations of PR/HACCP on hospitalizations related to Salmonella are lacking.

Methods

Hospitalization records of the U.S. elderly in 1991-2004 were obtained from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. Harmonic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the long-term trends of Salmonella-related hospitalizations in pre- and post-HACCP periods. Seasonal characteristics of the outcome in the nine Census divisions of the contiguous U.S. were also derived and contrasted.

Results

Predicted rates decreased in most divisions after 1997, except South Atlantic, East South Central, and West South Central. These three divisions also demonstrated higher overall hospitalization rates, pronounced seasonal patterns, and consistent times to peak at about 32nd to 34th week of the year.

Conclusion

The impact of HACCP was geographically different. South Atlantic, East South Central, and West South Central divisions should be targeted in further Salmonella preventive programs. Further research is needed to identify the best program type and timing of implementation.