The number of trichinellosis cases in Europe increased by more than 50 from 2016 to 2017 following several years of decline.
For 2016, 13 countries reported 166 infections and 101 confirmed cases. In 2017, 15 countries had 224 cases, of which 168 were confirmed. The increase comes after a declining trend with 324 confirmed cases in 2014 compared to 156 in 2015.
Eating undercooked meat from pigs raised under non-controlled housing conditions or hunted wild boar present the highest risk of getting the disease, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Consuming undercooked meat from pigs or hunted wild boar not tested for Trichinella is a major risk factor for trichinellosis and it is vital relevant information reaches such consumers, added the agency.
Figures for 2016
Twenty-nine countries reported data for 2016, fifteen of which had no cases. Bulgaria, Romania, and Spain accounted for almost three quarters of confirmed cases. Bulgaria reported the highest notification rate in the region, followed by Romania and Croatia.
Of 58 confirmed cases with available information, 89.7 percent were domestically acquired. Four countries reported six trichinellosis cases as travel-related.
Trichinellosis follows a seasonal pattern with case numbers peaking in January and February. This recurring peak may reflect consumption of various pork products during the Christmas period, as well as wild boar hunting season, according to ECDC. However, in 2017, a small August peak was also observed.
The highest notification rate for 2016 cases was in males aged 25 to 44 years. No cases were reported in children under five years old.
In 2016, seven Trichinella outbreaks were reported to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with the majority associated with pig meat and products thereof, including wild boar. In Bulgaria, four outbreaks were reported: Trichinella britovi due to wild boar meat, Trichinella spiralis due to pig meat and two with unknown sources. One outbreak of Trichinella britovi due to wild boar meat was noted in Italy.
European Commission regulation requires tests for Trichinella in slaughtered pigs, wild boars, horses and other farmed or wild animal species susceptible to infestation from holdings not officially recognised as applying controlled housing conditions. Animals slaughtered for home consumption are not included and national rules differ.
Increased cases in 2017
Twenty-nine countries reported data for 2017, fourteen of which reported no cases. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania accounted for 73.8 percent of confirmed cases. Bulgaria had the highest notification rate, followed by Croatia, Lithuania and Romania.
Compared with 2016, notification rates increased in nine countries. A decrease was reported in Spain and Sweden. Portugal had the first case since EU-level surveillance began in 2007 and Greece recorded the first infection since 2010. Notification rates were low in northern European countries and higher in eastern European nations.
Of the 91 confirmed cases with available information, 84.6 percent were domestically acquired. Five countries reported 14 cases as travel-related.
As in 2016, the highest notification rate was in males aged 25 to 44 years. However, unlike 2016, infections were recorded in those under five years old by Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania and Romania.
Seven member states reported 11 outbreaks to EFSA. Four were by Croatia, two by Romania and France, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Italy reported one outbreak each. Seven were due to Trichinella spiralis and one due to Trichinella britovi. The majority of them were associated with pig meat products including wild boar.
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