Foodborne illness costs Americans billions each year, but the cost varies dramatically by state, according to a new analysis by Robert Scharff an economist and scientist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Ohio State University. Having previously published estimates of the national cost of foodborne illness, Scharff noticed the disparity and looked into further with this study. What he found could help state governments prioritize their resources.
Scharff found that the average cost of a case of fooborne illness varies from state to state -$1,666 in Ohio compared with $2,443 in Maryland. But he also found that that the bacterial, viral and parasitic agents that make people sick vary by state, too.
Vibrio is a bacteria frequently associated with raw seafood. So, states that have a higher percentage of people eating raw oysters or other raw seafood may want to look at ways to educate the public about Vibrio and other risks of eating raw seafood, especially where costs of treating these cases is high.
Maryland and Louisiana, two coastal states with seafood-loving populations, have about the same incidence of illnesses from Vibrio, but in in Maryland a case Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning will cost about $4.2 million compared with $2.4 million in Louisiana.
Symptoms of a Vibrio vulnificus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. But for people with compromised immune systems or chronic liver disease, infections that move to the bloodstream are fatal about 50 percent of the time. Symptoms of these more severe infections include ever and chills, decreased blood pressure and blistering skin.