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Biggest outbreaks in every state from the past decade

  • Biggest outbreaks in every state from the past decade

    Nearly everyone can relate to the common symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain that accompany outbreaks spread by dirty water, spoiled produce, or undercooked meat.

    Outbreaks can move easily among young children who share toys and put their fingers in their mouths or among athletes swimming in a contaminated pool, while residents of long-term health facilities are vulnerable because they may be elderly or already sick. Shared close quarters, from cruise chips to prisons, can aide the quick transmission of illness. Causes can be pinpointed to food sources such as raw meat, exposed restaurant buffets, unclean kitchens, or poor personal hygiene, although sometimes the source is never found.

    Among the most common and most contagious is norovirus, spread by infected people and by contaminated food and surfaces. It is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis in the United States and contributes to nearly 2 million doctor and hospital visits each year. Tainted food is the source for nearly all of the 1.2 million illnesses caused each year by salmonella nationwide, and the sickness caused by Shigella, found in diarrheal fecal matter, is extremely contagious. Other outbreaks are waterborne like a chemical spill that contaminated a river in West Virginia or by children splashing in water parks and community pools.

    Some outbreaks make national news, while word of others may spread through communities as part of efforts to keep people safe and prevent further sickness. Others go unnoticed. Here is a list of the biggest outbreaks—viral, bacterial, chemical—in each state from 2008 to 2017, based on data from the National Outbreak Reporting System of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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  • #51. Delaware

    - Illnesses: 86
    - Hospitalizations: 1
    - When: March 2013
    - Where: long-term care/nursing home/assisted living facility

    Norovirus sickened patients at a long-term care facility in Delaware in March 2013. Health-care facilities are the most common settings for viral outbreaks in the United States, according to the CDC.

  • #50. South Dakota

    - Illnesses: 110
    - Hospitalizations: 31
    - When: June 2016
    - Where: fair, festival, other temp or mobile services; grocery store

    Salmonella sickened more than a hundred people in South Dakota in 2016. The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States every year.

  • #49. Vermont

    - Illnesses: 130
    - Hospitalizations: 0
    - When: March 2014
    - Where: long-term care/nursing home/assisted living facility

    An illness outbreak sickened more than 100 people in a long-term care facility in Vermont in 2014. Outbreaks can spread quickly in places that are enclosed or where people live close to one another.

  • #48. New Jersey

    - Illnesses: 155
    - Hospitalizations: 1
    - When: April 2009
    - Where: data not available

    Food-borne norovirus struck New Jersey residents in 2009. Only a tiny amount of norovirus particles is needed to contaminate food and water to make people sick, according to the CDC.

  • #47. North Dakota

    - Illnesses: 180
    - Hospitalizations: 0
    - When: December 2012
    - Where: long-term care/nursing home/assisted living facility

    Residents of a North Dakota long-term care facility fell ill in an outbreak in 2012. Health experts say outbreaks can be devastating to patients already ill or infirm living in such homes.

  • #46. Connecticut

    - Illnesses: 189
    - Hospitalizations: 0
    - When: April 2016
    - Where: long-term care/nursing home/assisted living facility

    Nearly 200 people fell ill in a long-term care facility in Connecticut in 2016. Residents of such facilities may already be in weak health, making them vulnerable to infection.

  • #45. Oregon

    - Illnesses: 191
    - Hospitalizations: 0
    - When: May 2016
    - Where: school/college/university

    Nearly 200 students became ill in May 2016 at an Oregon school. Close quarters and shared spaces make it easy for the virus to spread in schools, according to the CDC.

  • #44. Montana

    - Illnesses: 200
    - Hospitalizations: 1
    - When: June 2013
    - Where: camp

    Two hundred people got sick in an outbreak at a Montana camp in 2013. Health experts say illness can move rapidly in settings such as camps, where food, sleeping quarters, and bathrooms are shared.

  • #43. Mississippi

    - Illnesses: 205
    - Hospitalizations: 1
    - When: December 2016
    - Where: restaurant (sit-down dining)

    An outbreak of E.coli was linked to a popular Mississippi restaurant, Captain Al's Steak and Shrimp in Gulfport, where people who had eaten there fell ill in December 2016. Which food or beverage was to blame was never specifically determined. The restaurant reopened in January 2017.

  • #42. Rhode Island

    - Illnesses: 221
    - Hospitalizations: 0
    - When: December 2016
    - Where: school/college/university

    Children at a Cranston, R.I., elementary school fell sick with norovirus in December 2016. The source was not determined. Nearly half of the kindergarten class was sickened. The school closed briefly for disinfecting.