The ASTHO Take: A Week in Public Health News (November 6)

November 06, 2015|2:34 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

  • Multistate Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Rare, But Deadly   

This week’s Vital Signs from CDC revealed that although only 3 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks sicken people in more than one state, these multistate outbreaks cause 56 percent of all foodborne illness deaths in the United States because they often involve bacteria that is more lethal. An average of 24 such outbreaks occurs annually.

“Americans shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick from the food they eat,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden. “We have done a lot to improve food safety, but we need to do more.”

E. coli, salmonella, and listeria are responsible for 91 percent of multistate outbreaks, and the average multistate outbreak hits six states.

The new report comes amid an E. coli outbreak in Oregon and Washington state linked to the restaurant chain Chipotle. So far, 40 people have been sickened in the outbreak. CDC is working with the state health agencies in Oregon and Washington to identify cases and track the source of the contamination. 

  • Obama Administration Rejects Keystone Pipeline Proposal Due to Environment Concerns   

On Friday, President Obama announced that he has rejected TransCanada’s application to construct the 1,179-mile Keystone Pipeline, which would have carried petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

"America’s now a global leader in taking serious action to fight climate change," Obama said during a press event. "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that's the biggest risk we face, not acting."

Rejecting the proposal ends a seven-year fight over the pipeline. Supporters argued that the pipeline would shore up U.S. oil reserves and make the country less reliant on other nations for petroleum. However, some environmentalists argued that the petroleum extraction process for the pipeline would accelerate global warming and potentially harm the environments of the land that the pipeline would pass through.

Following the announcement, TransCanada issued a statement indicating that it may reapply for the permit.

  • Fear-Based Public Health Messages Are Powerful, Should Be Used Carefully, Researchers Say   

A new meta-analysis in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin says that fear-based public health campaigns are effective and generally don’t backfire. Fear appeals are particularly powerful when presenting efficacy statements, recommending one-time behavior changes (e.g., getting a flu shot in the fall), and when targeting audiences with a large number of women.

But some researchers urge public health to use fear appeals with caution. Fear-based messages, they say,can stigmatize groups that already face discrimination, such as people living with HIV.