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Listeria Up 19 Percent in EU; Salmonella Down

In 2009, European Union countries experienced a 19 percent increase in Listeria infections, which caused 270 deaths.  At the same time, the EU marked the fifth straight year of reductions in Salmonella illnesses.

The European Food Safety Authority and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported on the foodborne illness trends from 27 EU member states for 2009, the most recent year for the data.  

EU countries reported 5,550 outbreaks of foodborne disease during the year.

In 2009, 108,614 salmonellosis cases in humans were reported and a statistically significant decreasing trend in the case numbers continued. 

Eighteen member states reached the European Union Salmonella reduction target for breeding flocks of fowl, 17 member states met their reduction target for laying hens and 18 member states met the reduction target for broilers.

In foodstuffs, Salmonella was most often detected in fresh poultry and pork. 

Campylobacteriosis was the most commonly reported zoonosis with 198,252 human cases. Campylobacter was most often detected in fresh broiler meat. 

The number of listeriosis cases in humans increased by 19.1 percent compared with 2008 data, with 1,645 cases in 2009. Listeria was seldom detected above the legal safety limit from ready-to-eat foods. 

Member states reported 3,573 verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), 7,595 yersiniosis and 401 brucellosis cases in humans, while VTEC bacteria were mostly found from cattle and bovine meat and Yersinia from pigs and pig meat. 

Brucellosis and tuberculosis decreased in cattle, sheep and goat populations. In humans 1,987 Q fever cases were detected and Q fever was found in domestic ruminants. Trichinellosis and echinococcosis caused 748 and 790 human cases, respectively, and Trichinella and Echinococcus were mainly detected in wildlife. 

There were 1,259 human cases of toxoplasmosis reported and in animals Toxoplasma was most often found in sheep and goats. Rabies was recorded in one person in the European Union and the disease was also found in animals. 

Salmonella, viruses and bacterial toxins caused most of the outbreaks and the most important food sources were eggs, mixed or buffet meals and pig meat.

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