The number of Salmonella infections declined in the first 11 months of 2019 in Lithuania, according to a new report from the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS (ULAC).

There were 717 cases of Salmonella in Lithuania up to Dec. 1, which is 7 percent less than the same period the previous year. The incidence of salmonellosis in the country has halved in the past 10 years from 61 cases per 100,000 population in 2009 to 28 cases per 100,000 population in 2018.

The decline comes despite the number of people sick from Salmonella increasing in the first seven months of this past year. At 434 cases, the incidence of salmonellosis had gone up by 18 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

According to ULAC data, 794 patients with salmonellosis were registered in Lithuania in 2018.

Galinos Zagrebnevienės, from ULAC, said outbreaks of Salmonella in the country are mostly registered in preschools and at family level. Incidence could be reduced by raising consumer awareness and improving hygiene in handling and preparing food.

Patient surveys show chicken eggs, broiler meat and meat products are risk factors for Salmonella.

International meeting on foodborne diseases
Meanwhile, the State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) of Lithuania held an international conference on food safety late last year in Vilnius that was organized with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Some messages from event participants were a call for closer cooperation in development of preventive action plans and sharing of emerging crises data; coordination of laboratory and inter-institutional research activities and greater use of early warning systems in the European Union for reporting communicable disease outbreaks or food crises.

“The insights and discussions provided by the experts only confirm that effective prevention of foodborne diseases and efficient management of emerging food crises require the participation of all responsible parties – food industry representatives, farmers, competent food and veterinary control bodies, consumer institutions, public health policy makers – involvement at national and international levels, focused efforts to find new and innovative solutions,” said Darius Remeika, director of VMVT.

Insights on risk assessment for food crises were shared by Dr. Valentina Rizzi, senior scientific officer of the Biological Hazards and Contaminants (BIOCONTAM) unit at EFSA. Martial Plantady, from DG Sante, presented the general plan for food and feed safety crisis management. Research on pathogen diagnostics was talked about by Dr. Rene S. Hendriksen from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

Attendees heard about Latvia’s experience in investigating outbreaks of foodborne disease from Dr. Aivars Bērziņš. The most common causative agents, main causes of outbreaks and methods of lab testing for food safety used by the National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute (NFVRAI) in Lithuania were also discussed.

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