Journal List > J Korean Med Assoc > v.50(7) > 1041917

Lim: Contributing Factors of Infectious Waterborne and Foodborne Outbreaks in Korea


Infectious waterborne and foodborne diseases pose a considerable threat to human health and the economy of individuals, families, and nations. They are the results of ingestion of contaminated water and food stuffs. They have increased recently in Korea. The reasons include the increase in international travels and trade, microbial adaptation, and changes in the food production system, human demographics and behavior as well as the climate change. The contributing factors of infectious waterborne and foodborne outbreaks in institutional settings and at home were reviewed through the epidemiological investigations of them. The most commonly reported diseases (possibly of waterborne origin) were typhoid fever, shigellosis, and viral hepatitis A. The sources of infection were any drinking water including well, spring, mountain, tap, and sea water. The water was contaminated with raining ground water, leakage from the damaged septic tank or pipes. The most commonly identified agents (possibly of foodborne origin) were norovirus, pathogenic E. coli, S. aureus, Salmonella spp., and V. parahemolyticus. The mechanisms of infection were raw food, secondary contamination of the raw food and unsafe storage, contaminations from food handlers, or contaminated water. While cholera was often due to sea water, raw or under-processed seafood were important epidemiological pathways for cholera transmission. Owing to the globalization, imported cases of infectious waterborne and foodborne diseases have been increasing. We should recognize the outbreak rapidly and strengthen the surveillance. Also epidemiological investigations should start timely and be done thoroughly with repeat the situation, if necessary.

Figures and Tables

Table 1
Reported cases of water/food-borne national notifiable diseases by year

Source: Communicable Diseases Monthly Report

*: blank data

: Reported cases by sentinel surveillance

Table 2
Reported cases of food poisoning by year

Source: Korea Food & Drug Administration


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