Foodborne illness is a common, distressing, and sometimes
life-threatening problem for millions of people in the United States and
around the world. Persons infected with foodborne organisms can remain
symptom-free or can develop symptoms ranging from mild intestinal
discomfort to severe dehydrating or bloody diarrhea and death.
Foodborne illness is also extremely costly; the estimated yearly cost of all
foodborne diseases in this country is $5 to $6 billion in direct medical
expenditures and lost productivity. Salmonella and Campylobacter
infections alone account for $1 billion in direct and indirect medical
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
collaborates with other research institutions to conduct and support
basic, clinical, and applied research aimed at understanding, detecting,
treating, and preventing foodborne diseases. Those described below are
among the more common and serious.