By Alistair Driver
SALMONELLA infection in humans is continuing to fall across the EU, although incidence of Campylobacter infection is on the rise, according to new figures released today.
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 in the European Union for 2010.
The report shows that Salmonella incidence in humans fell by almost 9 per cent to 99,020 cases in 2010, marking the sixth consecutive year of decline. The bateria was found most often in chicken and turkey meat but available data indicates that Salmonella prevalence in poultry is declining at EU level.
Figures for the UK reflect the EU trend, with the 9,670 cases in humans recorded in 2010, representing an 8 per cent reduction on the 10,479 cases recorded in 2009. This follows big reductions in incidence since 2006 when more than 14,000 cases were recorded.
The report attributes the decrease in human salmonellosis cases to the ‘successful’ Salmonella control programmes in place across the EU aimed at reducing prevalence of the bacteria in poultry populations, particularly in laying hens.
“The positive progress in the reduction of Salmonella cases in humans and poultry is continuing and the majority of Member States met the targets set for the reduction of Salmonella in different poultry flocks in 2010,” said Claudia Heppner, EFSA’s acting director of risk assessment and scientific assistance.
However, the report the number of cases of Campylobacteriosis in humans in the EU increased by 7 per cent to 212,064 cases in 2010, continuing the upward trend of the past five years. In 2006, the EU figure was 176,440. It remains the most reported zoonotic infection in humans since 2005.
Again, UK figures reflected the trend, showing a 7 per cent increase to 70,298.
Johan Giesecke, chief scientist at ECDC, explained: “The increasing trends in human cases of Campylobacter highlight the need of further joint efforts. For this, EFSA and ECDC will continue to strengthen their links with all important partners and foster collaboration in order to decrease the occurrence of these diseases in the EU.”
Campylobacter, which can cause diarrhoea and fever, was mostly found in raw poultry meat.
The European Commission is currently carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of the control measures for the bacteria at different stages of the food chain.
The report revealed that 5,262 food-borne outbreaks were recorded in the EU in 2010, slightly less than in 2009.
These reported outbreaks affected over 43,000 people and caused 25 deaths, although, in reality these figures may be higher due to under-reporting.
The most frequently reported causes were Salmonella (31 per cent of all outbreaks, viruses such as norovirus (15 per cent) and Campylobacter (9 per cent).
The most frequently implicated food sources in the outbreaks were eggs and egg products, mixed and buffet meals and vegetables and derived products. The importance of vegetables as sources of outbreaks increased from previous years.
The report covered 15 zoonotic diseases, including Q fever, brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, rabies and the parasitic zoonoses echinococcosis.
It can be viewed herehttp://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/2597.pdf
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