July 16, 2024

Cost of US Foodborne Illnesses: $15 Billion Per Year

The Economic Research Service of the USDA has collected cost estimates of foodborne illness for the major pathogens that strike people in the U.S. That cost is estimated to be $15,600,000,000.00 every year, in medical care, lost wages and productivity, and premature deaths. That’s billion with a “b”.

Hospital corridorThe research looked at 15 pathogens that account for more than 95% of illnesses and deaths in this country. The estimates build on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates of disease rates, medical and epidemiological literature, and peer-reviewed synthesis of data on medical costs.

According to the data, Salmonella infections cost our economy the most money. Yearly cases of salmonellosis cost $3,666,600,031.00, sickening more than a million people and hospitalizing almost 20,000.

Listeria is the second most costly pathogen, with estimated costs of $2,834,444,202.00. While only 1,591 people are sickened with listeriosis every year in the U.S., the medical costs and costs for premature deaths are much high for Listeria monocytogenes infections. Medical costs just for mothers and infants hospitalized with listeriosis are $27,643,830.00 every year. And the yearly cost of premature deaths linked to Listeria is more than two billion dollars.

The third most costly pathogen is norovirus, with a total yearly cost of $2,255,827,318.00. This very contagious virus sickens more than five million people every year. Most of those sickened do not see a doctor, although more than 14,000 people with norovirus infections are hospitalized every year at a cost of $355,175,098.00.

Campylobacter infections come in fourth in the tally, with a total yearly cost of $1,928,787,166. More than 845,000 Americans are sickened with food poisoning from this pathogen every year. The yearly cost of premature deaths associated with Campylobacter infections is $748,428,516.00.

Finally, E. coli O157:H7 and STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli that are non-O157:H7) infections cost the country $298,783,251.00 every year. Medical expenses are very high for this type of infection, at $19,340,410.00, especially since only about 2,000 people are hospitalized with this type of infection every year.



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