New Approaches for Tackling Foodborne Infections
Yuko Kumagai*,**, Mamoru Noda***, and Fumiko Kasuga***
*Graduate School of Agriculture and life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
**Minister’s Secretariat of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
***Division of Biomedical Food Research, National Institute of Health Sciences, 1-18-1 Kamiyoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-8501, Japan
New challenges have emerged in Japan’s foodborne infections due to the changes in social structure and food distribution system in addition to changing pathogens. This paper introduces new approaches for tackling foodborne infections. There are two types of information concerning foodborne infections. First is the food poisoning statistics compiled based on the findings of food poisoning investigations conducted by Prefectures etc. under the Food Sanitation Law. The other is information collected through the surveillance system of infectious diseases under the Law Concerning the Prevention of Infectious Disease and Medical care for Patients of Infections. Both the notifications of foodborne infections are essential to grasp the actual situation of foodborne infections. In recent years, theMinistry of Health, Labour andWelfare has established a system named the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Foodborne Disease (NESFD). This system supports to detect diffuse outbreaks at an early stage and prevent the expansion of health damages by sharing data of all food poisoning outbreaks in Japan between local governments and the central government. According to the food poisoning statistics between 1954 and 2009, food poisoning by unknown causes have largely decreased, but cases in which implicated food is not identified are on the increasing trend. There is a need to progress the epidemiological estimation method for getting the attribution rate of foodborne diseases to food obtained. Moreover, there is a possibility that new causative agents of food poisoning could be found by analyzing the information of cases of complaints about symptoms or attention-catchy information obtained in the food poisoning investigation undertaken by Prefectures etc. Therefore there is a need for the officials in charge of the government administration and research institutions to strengthen collaboration. Furthermore, Japan has been cooperating in the approach of the Foodborne Disease Epidemiology Reference Group (WHO/FERG) to promote “the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)” as a metric of public health impact. This is developing the appropriate epidemiological surveillance system for estimating the human health burden of foodborne diseases in Japan.
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