Fewer than 50 foodborne outbreaks were reported across Austria this past year but two of them involved more than 300 people.
In connection with the 48 outbreaks, 793 people became ill. This is a sharp increase compared to 222 patients in 52 outbreaks in 2018.
Two large outbreaks were recorded in 2019, one caused by norovirus, which sickened 350 people, and a salmonellosis outbreak with 321 patients.
A total of 159 people had to be hospitalized and one death was reported in connection with all foodborne disease outbreaks.
Campylobacter caused most outbreaks
Campylobacter was linked to 22 outbreaks and Salmonella caused 17. Five others were attributable to norovirus, two to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), and one each to Listeria and Brucella. Salmonella outbreaks have decreased from 452 in 2006 to 17 in 2019.
The long-term average from 2006 to 2018 of people affected per outbreak was 4.4 but in 2019 there were almost four times as many (16.5) people affected per outbreak.
The Austrian Zoonoses Act obliges the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) to collect outbreak data annually and forward it to European authorities.
In 2019, 1,865 laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonellosis were registered. Salmonella was the second most common reported cause of bacterial food poisoning in Austria after Campylobacter with 6,500 infections.
The increase this past year compared to 2018 can be attributed to an Austria-wide outbreak by Salmonella Enteritidis. Infections occurred mainly in Asian restaurants through the use of eggs containing Salmonella.
Salmonella Infantis, the monophasic variant of Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Coeln are becoming increasingly important alongside Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium.
More than 5,700 food samples were tested for Salmonella as part of sampling. It was found 69 times, with Salmonella Infantis being identified most frequently on 54 occasions. Salmonella was detected in 62 of 443 poultry meat samples. These samples accounted for 7.8 percent of the total sample types tested, but 90 percent of all Salmonella-positive samples were from this category.
Prevalence of other pathogens
Campylobacter was detected in 110 of 235 samples including 81 of 131 samples of raw chicken meat and preparations, 11 of 56 samples of raw turkey meat and preparations, and 18 of 48 samples of raw poultry meat.
Six laboratory-confirmed infections of Brucella were reported. Brucella melitensis was confirmed in five cases. Three are considered imported, two were not imported and for one the place of infection is unknown.
A total of 286 laboratory-confirmed STEC cases were reported and the severe complication hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) occurred in 16 patients.
In 2019, 38 lab-confirmed cases of invasive listeriosis were reported and six people died within 28-days of diagnosis.
In total, 112 laboratory-confirmed cases of yersiniosis were reported with all but one of 95 isolates being Yersinia enterocolitica.
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