Campylobacteriosis overtakes salmonellosis infecting humans in EU

by Editor
Friday, December 15, 2006

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its second annual Community report on infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases).

More than 380,000 European Union (EU) citizens are being affect every year. In 2005, campylobacteriosis overtook salmonellosis as the most reported zoonotic disease in humans in the EU according to the data provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

In 2005, reported Campylobacter infections in humans increased by 7.8% compared to the previous year rising to an incidence rate of 51.6 cases per 100,000 people and to a total of 197,363 recorded cases. As in 2004, the primary source of most human Campylobacter infections is related to fresh poultry meat with up to 66% of some samples being positive.

Salmonella infections, while also still remaining a serious public health challenge, fell by 9.5% in 2005 to an incidence rate of 38.2 cases per 100,000 (176,395 reported cases). Salmonellosis in humans is most likely linked to the presence of Salmonella in eggs and poultry and pig meat. A decrease in Salmonella contamination in eggs was observed during the last years.

The report also provides data on important resistance rates to antibiotics in Campylobacter originating from farm animals and food of animal origin. Some results indicated that over 80% of the tested bacteria were resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat human diseases. This is a growing area of concern for public health specialists as this important reservoir of antimicrobial resistance might compromise effective treatment of these diseases in humans.

The report also includes data on other zoonotic diseases. Examples are listeriosis, which affected relatively few people (1,439 reported cases in 2005), and VTEC[1] infections, a type of E. coli, which affected 3,314 people in 2005. Both can seriously damage human health and are most severe in children.

In 2005, the reporting of investigated outbreaks caused by consumption of contaminated food was mandatory for the first time in EU. Together 5,311 foodborne outbreaks were reported in the EU involving 47,251 people and resulting in 5,330 hospitalisation and 24 deaths.