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The incidence of major foodborne diseases -- including E. coli, salmonella and listeria -- has dropped dramatically in the United States since the late 1990s, the government said Thursday.

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

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

Similarly, the number of campylobacter infections fell by 31 percent, to 12.9 cases per 100,000; cryptosporidium by 40 percent, to 13.2 cases per 100,000; and yersinia infections by 45 percent, to 3.9 cases per 100,000.

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

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