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Reactions to foodborne Escherichia coli outbreaks: A text-mining analysis of the public's response

      Highlights

      • Public health officials can share information about foodborne illness on Twitter.
      • The public is concerned about foodborne Escherichia coli outbreaks.
      • The public has questions about sources and symptoms of E coli infections.
      • Twitter can be used to share information about food recalls and labeling.
      Foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria are being reported at an increasing rate in the United States. We performed a text-mining analysis to look at nearly 13,000 tweets from two foodborne Escherichia coli outbreaks in 2018. Concerns from the public included staying informed about contaminated lettuce, recognizing signs of infection, and holding responsible farms accountable. At the end of the second outbreak, comments were focused on assessing symptoms, using the traceback process to locate outbreak sources, and calling for better food labeling practices.

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      References

      1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne diseases active surveillance network (FoodNet). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/foodnet/reports/prelim-data-intro-2017.html. Accessed February 6, 2019.

      2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne disease outbreak 2011 case definition. Available from: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/conditions/foodborne-disease-outbreak/case-definition/2011/. Accessed February 4, 2019.

      3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E. coli (Escherichia coli). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/index.html. Accessed February 4, 2019.

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