updated 4/14/2005 2:25:05 PM ET 2005-04-14T18:25:05

Major foodborne diseases — including E. coli, salmonella and listeria — have dropped dramatically in the United States since the late 1990s, the government said Thursday.

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The government attributed the decline to better food-industry practices.

The rate of E. coli infections has dropped 42 percent, to 0.9 cases per 100,000 people, since 1996-98, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Similarly, campylobacter infections fell 31 percent (to 12.9 cases per 100,000); cryptosporidium dropped 40 percent (13.2 cases per 100,000), and yersinia infections decreased 45 percent (3.9 cases per 100,000).

The drop in salmonella was the smallest — 8 percent, to 14.7 cases per 100,000 — mainly because health officials still know little about the bacteria, the CDC said.

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