Quantifying the effect of public health actions on population health is essential when justifying sustained public health investment. Using modeling, we conservatively estimated that rapid response to a multistate foodborne outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium in the United States in 2018 potentially averted 94 reported cases and $633,181 in medical costs and productivity losses.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths are caused by foodborne illnesses each year in the United States (1). Salmonella alone accounts for 1.35 million illnesses, 26,600 hospitalizations, and 421 deaths in the United States annually (2). Although incidence of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium has declined since 2000, infection with this serotype continues to pose a public health burden because it can result in higher rates of hospitalization and longer lengths of stay in a hospital relative to other serotypes (3–6). A subset of Salmonella illnesses are identified and reported as part of an outbreak (defined as >2 persons who become ill from the same exposure); 96% of Salmonella outbreaks are caused by foodborne transmission (7). Outbreaks provide an opportunity to identify implicated food vehicles, as well as root causes for contamination, which can in turn inform broader food safety prevention efforts. If a Salmonella outbreak is suspected, public health officials can limit further cases by quickly identifying the source and issuing a recall for the implicated product or making other recommendations for restricting exposure to it.