Reports on monitoring zoonosis

by Editor
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EFSA has published two new reports aimed at improving the monitoring and reporting in the European Union of two bacteria responsible for zoonotic diseases which can be transmitted from animals and food to humans.

These are Yersinia (Yersinia enterocolitica), which causes the 3rd most frequently reported zoonosis in Europe, and VTEC (verotoxigenic Escherichia coli), which although less widespread, can be fatal. The technical specifications contained in the reports describe how data should be collected and include a risk-based sampling strategy specifying details on the frequency and methods of sampling and laboratory analyses. This will allow Member States to produce more relevant and comparable data to support EFSA in its task of analysing the occurrence of these zoonoses and identifying the sources for human infections with these zoonoses. The harmonisation will also lead to more cost-effective monitoring.

Yersinia enterocolitica is a bacterium carried by pigs and to a lesser extent by other animals. When passed to humans it causes the infectious disease called yersiniosis. It most often affects young children and causes such symptoms as fever, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. In an opinion on monitoring Y. enterocolitica in pigs in 2007, experts on EFSA’s Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) Panel recommended that national surveys of pigs at slaughterhouses be carried out depending on the prevalence of the disease in individual Member States. VTEC infections, although less widespread, can have serious health impact. EFSA recommends monitoring VTEC in young cattle and sheep at the slaughterhouse at least every three years.