Campylobacter increased but Salmonella decreased in 2018, according to figures from Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

A total of 6,096 laboratory reports of Campylobacter were received by HPS last year, which was an increase of 301 (5.2 percent) compared to 2017 when 5,795 isolates were recorded. It is the second consecutive year Campylobacter has increased following a decline in 2015 and 2016.

The Scottish Salmonella, Shigella and Clostridium difficile Reference Laboratory (SSSCDRL) reported 751 cases of human non-typhoidal Salmonella to HPS last year, representing a 10 percent decrease on the 840 infections in 2017 and 839 in 2016.

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In Scotland, the overall rate of Campylobacter in 2018 was 112.8 reports per 100,000 population, compared to 107.2 reports per 100,000 population in 2017. Despite the increase in 2018, it remains below the peak of 6,636 reports in 2014.

Amongst children and young adults, rates are higher in children under five years of age and for adults, rates are highest in those aged 50 years and older. Overall rates are higher in males, with 126.1 reports per 100,000 population compared to 101.4 reports per 100,000 population for females but the reasons for this are unknown.

In 2018 no general outbreaks, which are defined as affecting more than one household, of Campylobacter were reported to ObSurv, which is the surveillance system for all general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease in Scotland.

The last general outbreak of Campylobacter reported to ObSurv was in 2014. Since ObSurv was established in 1996 there have been 35 general outbreaks from the pathogen.

Salmonella cases decline
For Salmonella, the two most common serotypes were Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, which accounted for 55 percent of all Salmonella isolates reported in 2018.

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Salmonella Enteritidis remains the most common serotype, with 275 reports, an increase of 11 percent on the 247 in 2017.

Salmonella Typhimurium decreased by 24 percent, with 139 reports compared to 183 in 2017 and 128 in 2016. This remains the second most common serotype accounting for 19 percent of cases followed by the Newport, Infantis, and Agona serotypes.

Higher rates of infection were observed in children younger than 5 years old compared with older children. Overall rates were slightly higher in males than females, 14.1 compared to 13.7 respectively, per 100,000 population.

In 2018, there were six general outbreaks of Salmonella reported to ObSurv. Four were part of United Kingdom outbreaks. The total for 2018 was down from the eight outbreaks in 2017.

Guidance on raw milk cheese
Meanwhile, the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) has endorsed guidance on the production of cheese from unpasteurized milk.

The guidance was produced by the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee’s Joint Specialist Cheese and Risky Foods Short-Life working group and is for use during inspection and enforcement of food safety controls applied by cheesemakers producing cheese made from unpasteurized milk.

It is focused on controlling microbiological risks in the production of artisan cheeses from unpasteurized milk, specifically Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) including E. coli O157 and applies to all sites producing cheese from unpasteurized milk from cows, goats, sheep, and buffalo.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) previously published a report to help improve safety for artisan producers making cheese from unpasteurized milk.

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