Campylobacter and Salmonella infections increased by almost 20 percent in 2018 in Slovakia, according to the country’s annual report on foodborne diseases.

Data was compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic.

In 2018, 29,080 human diseases caused by pathogens were reported, of which almost a third were campylobacteriosis and nearly a quarter were salmonellosis. More than half of all 1,041 outbreaks were due to Salmonella and almost one-fifth because of Campylobacter.

Slovakia reported 804 foodborne outbreaks in 2018 which was higher than the figure for 2017, according to a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Slovakia’s Salmonella situation
More than 7,200 Salmonella cases were reported, which represents a 19 percent increase compared to 2017 and a 43 percent rise versus the past five-year average.

There were 560 outbreaks of salmonellosis. Salmonella Enteritidis was dominant as in previous years. The most frequent factor of transmission was mixed food, eggs eaten at home and eggs in retail. Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks increased as Slovakia had 231 more than in 2017.

A total of 15,464 foods were examined in 2018. The percentage of positive samples in comparison with 2017 jumped from 0.34 percent to 1.24 percent. As in previous years, a higher percentage of positives were found in meat from broilers with 7.5 percent positive compared to 6.3 percent the year before.

The most frequent types in food were Salmonella Infantis at 43.7 percent and Salmonella Enteritidis at 40.6 percent. Of 196 examined samples of eggs and egg products, 5.6 percent were positive.

Slovakia Campylobacter data. Click to enlarge

A total of 8,429 cases of Campylobacter were recorded, which represents a 19.4 percent increase from 2017. Campylobacter jejuni was the most frequent cause of disease.

Of 202 outbreaks with 448 people sick, five involved three or more people. Chicken meat was twice the source, once it was contaminated hands, once contact with a sick person and it was unknown for the other two.

More than 1,150 foods from caterers, food enterprises and retail were tested and only 0.2 percent were positive. Positive findings were confirmed only in two samples of fresh broiler meat.

E. coli, Yersinia and Listeria
There were 443 E. coli infections and one case of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O26. Two small epidemics were reported.

Presence of E. coli was found in 4.3 percent of 8,244 food samples tested, and STEC was confirmed in eight of 54 samples from raw meat.

Yersiniosis-related morbidity from 2009 is higher than the average in other EU countries. A total of 269 cases were reported in 2018, which is 22.8 percent higher than in 2017.

A total of 25 of 39 samples of fresh chicken meat were contaminated by Yersinia spp. Based on the PCR confirmation method, ten of these isolates were classed as Yersinia enterocolitica.

Slovakia yersinia data. Click to enlarge

There were 19 cases of Listeriosis and four deaths in 2018. Most of them occurred among individuals between 55 and 64 years old.

More than 7,500 samples of 30 types of food were tested in 2018. The percentage of positives in comparison to 2017 dropped from 1.03 percent to 0.81 percent. A higher percentage of positive testing was found in raw sheep milk at 18.81 percent and raw meat at 8.33 percent.

Other agents on the radar
One outbreak caused 24 infections by Staphylococcus aureus in 2018.

Almost 12,200 food items were tested for coagulase positive staphylococci and 1.66 percent were positive. Most of the positives were in the milk and dairy products group. Staphylococci enterotoxin was detected in five food samples. The production of enterotoxin was proven in 21.25 percent of isolates, most of them in delicatessen products.

Eighty five cases of Toxoplasma gondii were reported in 2018, which represents a 23 percent decrease compared with 2017 and a 47 percent decline versus the 5-year average.

A total of 260 samples of juices from various types of meat of Slovak origin were examined from October 2016 to March 2018 for Toxoplasma gondii antibodies, of which 23.08 percent were positive. There were no positive findings in beef; the most positives occurred with sheep, goat and wild boar meat, 71 percent, 50 percent and 39 percent respectively.

A total of 12.9 percent of pork samples tested positive and there was a difference between pork from large commercial farms, where positivity was 8.1 percent and from small farms, where it was as high as 41.2 percent.

A total of 232 cases were reported in 2018 involving Enterococcus spp., the most frequently isolated was Enterococcus faecalis at 71.98 percent. Nearly half of 44 food samples tested positive, the highest percentage of positives at 87.5 percent were non-pasteurized smoothies and cheeses from non-pasteurized sheep milk.

Ciguatera, caused by eating saltwater fish contaminated by ciguatoxin, was identified as a new issue. Fish with the highest risk are barracuda, grouper, conger eel, jack mackerel, European bass and sturgeon.

“The increased number of poisonings in Europe in the past years is attributed to more intensive tourism, increased import of saltwater fish, as well as climate change and due to the adverse effects of human activity on coral reef ecosystems,” according to the report.

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