Perhaps the most interesting statistic about salmonella is that only 6.1 percent of all the thousands of illnesses it was responsible for in 2006 could be attributed to the recognized outbreaks that are laid out in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

And while the Centers on Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that its picture is incomplete, it’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FBDSS) with the states did manage to track  total of 1,270 Food-Borne Disease Outbreaks, resulting in 27,634 confirmed illnesses and 11 deaths.

Salmonella was second only to Norovirus in causing the most food-borne illnesses. And among bacteria, Salmonella was No. 1, being the most commonly reported bacterial etiologic agent causing 112 or 52 percent of the confirmed outbreaks attributed to bacteria.

Salmonella serotype Enteritidis caused most of those outbreaks, a total of 28 or 13 percent.

Salmonella was responsible for four of the 11 multi-state outbreaks. The salmonella bacteria was transmitted by tomatoes in two of those four multi-state outbreaks. Together they made 307 sick.

Fruit salad was the transmission source in the third multi-state salmonella outbreak, making 41 people sick. And, finally, there was the 2006 peanut butter outbreak that cross many state lines in jars of Peter Pan peanut butter that carried salmonella. That outbreak made 715 sick.

CDC also looked pathogen-commodity pairs responsible for the most outbreak-related cases. Salmonella came up as a partner with fruits and nuts in 776 cases; and with vine-stalk vegetables in 331 cases.

Read the entire report, “Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2006,” in MMWR.