Report on zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Friday, January 29, 2010

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have published their Annual Report on Zoonoses and Food-borne outbreaks for 2008.

The report gives an overview of zoonotic infections shared in nature by humans and animals and disease outbreaks caused by consuming contaminated food. It shows that the number of human cases of the three most reported zoonotic infections was lower in 2008 than in 2007.

Campylobacteriosis remained the most frequently reported zoonotic infection in humans across the European Union, with 190,566 cases notified in 2008 (down from 200,507 in 2007). In foodstuffs, Campylobacter, which can cause diarrhoea and fever, was mostly found in raw poultry meat. In live animals, Campylobacter was found in poultry, pigs and cattle.

Salmonella, the second most reported zoonotic infection in humans, decreased significantly for the fifth consecutive year, with131,468 cases in 2008 compared to 151,998 in 2007, representing a 13.5% decrease. It remained however the most frequent cause of food borne outbreaks. Salmonella was found most frequently in raw chicken, turkey and pig meat.

2008 was the first year in which EU Member States implemented a new programme put in place by the EU Commission to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in laying hens[3]; 20 Member States have already met their reduction target for that year. This could be the reason for a decrease of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in humans, since eggs are known to be the most important source for these infections, the report said.

With 1,381 confirmed cases in 2008, Listeria infections showed a decrease of 11% compared to 2007. Although less frequent in humans compared to Campylobacter and Salmonella, Listeria is known to have a high mortality rate.

Reported cases of Q fever in humans increased from 585 in 2007 to 1,599 in 2008[4].

Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) accounted for a total of 3,159 human infections in the EU, representing nearly a 9% increase from the previous year.

The report also gives an overview of food-borne outbreaks in 2008: 5,332 were recorded, affecting over 45,000 people and causing 32 deaths. Most of the outbreaks were caused by Salmonella (35%) followed by viruses and bacterial toxins. The most frequent food sources of these outbreaks were eggs and egg products (23%), pig meat and derived products (10%) and buffet meals (9%).
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