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EU Campylobacter, E. coli Cases Up; Salmonella Down in 2011EU Campylobacter, E. coli Cases Up; Salmonella Down in 2011

April 9, 2013

4 Min Read
EU Campylobacter, E. coli Cases Up; Salmonella Down in 2011

PARMA, ItalyThe number of salmonellosis cases in humans in the European Union dropped by 5.4 % compared with 2010 and by as much as 37.9 % compared with 2007, marking a decrease for the seventh consecutive year, according to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Campylobacteriosis remains the most reported zoonotic infection in humans since 2005 and the number of cases has been increasing over the last six years.

The report notes the likely main reasons for the decrease in human salmonellosis cases are the successful EU Salmonella control programs for reducing the prevalence of the bacteria in poultry populations, particularly in poultry populations. Salmonella accounted for 95,548 confirmed human salmonellosis cases in 2011 compared to 99,020 reported human cases in 2010. Salmonella was most often detected in fresh broiler meat. The food categories with highest proportion of products not complying with the EU Salmonella criteria were minced meat and meat preparations, as well as live bivalve mollusks.

The good news is that the positive trend in reduction of Salmonella cases in humans and poultry is continuing. However, the increase in Campylobacter and VTEC cases highlights the continued need to monitor and control the presence of these bacteria in the food chain in order to reduce the risk of human exposure," said Pia Makela, head of EFSAs Biological Monitoring Unit.

In 2010, a total of 220,209 Campylobacter cases in humans were reported, an increase for the sixth consecutive year with 2.2% more cases compared to 2010. Campylobacter was mostly found in chicken meat. The number of confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis in the EU has followed a significant increasing trend in the last four years, along with a clear seasonal trend.

The number of listeriosis cases in humans decreased slightly compared with 2010, and 1,476 confirmed human cases were reported in 2011. As in previous years, a high fatality rate (12.7 %) was reported among the cases. Listeria monocytogenes was seldom detected above the legal safety limit from ready-to-eat foods at point of retail. Samples exceeding this limit were most often found in fishery products, cheeses and fermented sausages.

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC/STEC) bacteria accounted for 9,485 human disease cases in 2011a 2.6-fold increase compared with 2010. The strong increase observed in 2011 was primarily due to the large outbreak of the rare strain O104:H4 in Germany and France associated with sprouted seeds; however, an increasing trend already had been reported in previous years. A large number of the cases, 1,006 cases, also were affected by the severe condition, hemolytic uremic syndrome in 2011. This was a 4.5-fold increase compared with 2010, primarily observed in adult cases and attributed to the German outbreak. In animals and food most verotoxigenic Escherichia coli-positive findings were made in cattle and bovine meat, but the bacteria also were detected in some other animal species and foodstuffs.

A total of 7,017 confirmed cases of yersiniosis were reported in the EU in 2011, corresponding to a 3.5% increase compared with 2010. There was a statistically significant decreasing 5-year trend in the EU in 2007-2011. Among food and animals, Yersinia enterocolitica was mainly isolated from pig meat and pigs.

The number of confirmed brucellosis cases in humans continued to decline, and 330 confirmed cases were reported in 2011 in the EU. The number of brucellosis-positive sheep and goat herds continued to decrease. Bovine brucellosis decreased only marginally compared with 2010.

In 2011, trichinellosis caused 268 human cases in the EU compared to 223 cases in 2010. Although the number of cases was slightly higher in 2011 compared with 2010, human trichinellosis cases remained at a low level in the European Union compared with 2009 and previous years. In 2011, Trichinella was found slightly more often in pigs than it was in 2010.

There were a total of 5,648 foodborne outbreaks recoreded in the EU in 2011, affecting 69,553 people and causing 7,125 hospitalizations and 93 deaths. Salmonella (26.6 % of all outbreaks), followed by bacterial toxins (12.9%) and Campylobacter (10.6%). Even though Campylobacter is the most often reported cause of zoonotic diseases overall, it is less often reported as a cause of food-borne outbreaks. The most common food sources of the outbreaks were eggs and egg products, mixed food, fish and fish products.

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