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Report warns Salmonella infections back on the rise across EU

The declining trend of salmonellosis cases in European Union countries has leveled off according to the recently published annual report on zoonotic diseases.

The EU is the political and economic union of 28 member states with a population of more than 510 million that are located primarily in Europe.

Cases of Salmonella Enteritidis acquired in the EU have increased in humans by 3 percent since 2014, according to the report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

In laying hens, the prevalence increased from 0.7 percent to 1.21 percent over the same period.

“The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” said Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s chief scientist.

“Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programs for S. Enteritidis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the Member State and EU level.”

Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said: “The decrease of Salmonella has been a success story in the EU food safety system in the last ten years. Recent S. Enteritidis outbreaks contributed to a change in this trend in humans and poultry. Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understanding the reasons behind the increase.”

There were 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016. S. Enteritidis – the most widespread type of Salmonella, accounted for 59 percent of all salmonellosis cases originating in the EU, most from the consumption of eggs, egg products, and poultry meat.

Campylobacter and Listeria
Campylobacter, the most reported foodborne pathogen in humans, was detected in 246,307 people in the EU in 2016, an increase of 6.1 percent compared with 2015. Despite the high number of cases, fatalities were low. 0.03 percent. Levels of Campylobacter are high in chicken meat.

Listeria infections, which are more severe, led to hospitalization in 97 percent of reported cases. In 2016, listeriosis continued to rise, with 2,536 cases (a 9.3 percent increase) and 247 deaths. Most deaths occur in people aged over 64 (fatality rate of 18.9 percent). People over 84 are particularly at risk (fatality rate of 26.1 percent). Listeria seldom exceeded legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods.

Salmonella foodborne outbreaks increasing
The 4,786 foodborne disease outbreaks reported in 2016 represent a slight increase in comparison with 2015 when there were 4,362 outbreaks recorded, but the figure is similar to the average number of outbreaks in the EU from 2010 to 2016.

Outbreaks due to Salmonella are on the rise, with S. Enteritidis causing one in six foodborne disease outbreaks in 2016.

Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of foodborne outbreaks at 22.3 percent, which was an increase of 11.5 percent compared to 2015. They caused the highest burden regarding numbers of hospitalizations impacting 1,766 people for 45.6 percent of all hospitalized cases. Salmonella outbreaks also resulted in more deaths than other outbreaks, with 10 people killed, representing 50 percent of all deaths among outbreak cases.

Salmonella in eggs caused the highest number of outbreak cases at 1,882.

EU summary report on zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks 2016
The data for the EFSA-ECDC report is from all 28 EU Member States for 2016.

Nine other European countries reported on some of the zoonotic agents: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Salmonella Enteritidis is the Salmonella serotype responsible for most salmonellosis cases and Salmonella food-borne outbreaks.

Incidents of Salmonella Enteritidis declined after 2007 in the EU after stepped up surveillance, and implementation of control measures for poultry.

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