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E.coli illness down in 2009, CDC says

Rates of illness from E.coli decreased in 2009 to the lowest level in five years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency credits better safety measures for the decrease. It's important because a particular strain of E.coli, known as E.coli 0157, causes diarrhea, cramps and fever, is responsible for 5 to 10 percent of the infection causes of kidney disease and can cause severe illness in children and the elderly.

But the CDC had less success fighting other foodborne illnesses. The agency's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, which tracks nine illnesses in 10 states, found Salmonella infections were down only slightly, while the rates of two other illnesses rose -- Vibrio, which is rare and related to shellfish, and Listeria, which is associated with deli meats and unpasteurized food.

Getting a handle on Salmonella infections is a priority for the agency, which said its furthest from its goal in controlling such infections.

So, what can you do to prevent getting sick? Here are some tips from the CDC (plus, more info here on overall food safety):

    * CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
    * SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!
    * COOK: Cook to proper temperature
    * CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

CDC photo of E.coli.

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