The number of people sick from Campylobacter and Salmonella infections has increased by about 20 percent in Lithuania so far this year, according to the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS (ULAC).

A total of 434 cases of salmonellosis and 630 patients with campylobacteriosis were reported during the first seven months of this year.

Compared to the same period last year, the incidence of salmonellosis increased by 18 percent and campylobacteriosis rose by 23 percent.

Outbreaks of Salmonella have been recorded in six pre-schools affecting 57 children this year.

Trends over time

Campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis are the most commonly reported foodborne zoonoses in Lithuania and throughout Europe. Lithuania records more than 1,000 patients with these diseases every year but the actual number of infections is not known because not all patients seek medical attention.

Most people are infected with salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis through chicken, eggs and such products.

According to ULAC data, 794 patients with salmonellosis, 925 with campylobacteriosis and 20 with listeriosis were registered in Lithuania last year.

Infections from foodborne zoonoses reduced last year compared to 2017, with most due to toxoplasmosis, followed by salmonellosis, yersiniosis and campylobacteriosis.

During the last decade, the incidence of salmonellosis has decreased, campylobacteriosis has been on the rise, reflecting a similar trend in other EU countries, and the number of listeriosis cases ranged from five in 2009 to 20 in 2018.

Polish poultry problem

Earlier this year, the State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) revealed that during the first five months of 2019 it had banned the sale of almost 80 tons of chicken because of tightened food controls.

From January to May, more than 500 samples of fresh and frozen chicken were looked at and 40 showed microbial contamination with various Salmonella types such as Infantis, Livingstone, Enteritidis and Kentucky.

The agency noticed the majority of microbiologically non-compliant chicken came from Poland and linked it to two foodborne outbreaks.

The outbreaks in Kaunas and Šiauliai kindergartens led to 18 children developing Salmonella and were thought to be caused by dishes prepared from contaminated Polish chicken.

In July, frozen chicken thighs from Poland were found to contain Salmonella and suspected of causing the illness of eight people in Šiauliai, a city in northern Lithuania. Those ill were part of a wedding party at the country house “Lakštingalų sala” (or “Nightingale Island” in English).

An investigation found more than 70 kilograms of unlabeled raw materials, some of which had shelf life expiry dates in 2017 and 2018. The frozen chicken thighs had a best before date of December 2019.

Finally, controls of fruit and vegetables during the first half of 2019 found abnormal pesticide residues in two samples of dill grown in Lithuania. Chemical contaminants were detected in oranges from Egypt, grapefruit from Turkey, spinach from Italy and parsley from Georgia.

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