The number of Campylobacter infections were not impacted by public health measures taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to French surveillance.

Data published by Santé publique France comes from the National Reference Center (CNR) for Campylobacter and Helicobacter as well as outbreak notifications.

A decrease in the number of strains compared to previous years was only seen in March and April 2020, in the first lockdown. The decline seems to reflect a lower use of healthcare during this period, but could also indicate a drop in incidence related to the restrictions. A peak was seen in summer 2020, as in previous years.

Other countries have reported that measures taken to control the pandemic had an impact on foodborne disease figures.

In 2020, the CNR reported 8,884 isolates of Campylobacter and related bacteria with 7,920 identified as Campylobacter. In 2019, 7,712 were identified as Campylobacter.

The majority of these were Campylobacter jejuni but 13 percent were Campylobacter coli.

Poultry link for most outbreaks
A higher number of cases were seen in children under the age of 10. Men were more affected than women, except in people aged 30 to 39. Age at infection varied between 0 and 108 years old, with an average age of 34.

Information on foreign travel in the 15 days before onset of the disease was specified for 50 percent of the patients and among these, 3 percent had a trip abroad

A total of 63 outbreaks due to Campylobacter were declared with 244 patients. The number of confirmed outbreaks and patients remained similar in 2019 and 2020.

Consumption of poultry was the incriminated or suspected source of contamination in 35 outbreaks.

There is a stable but high resistance to fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines used to treat infections. No notable increase was seen in the resistance rates of the six antibiotics tested routinely.

Campylobacter cases mostly appear to be isolated cases. The main risk factors for infection are handling of fresh poultry or beef, cross-contamination of food through contaminated surfaces in the kitchen, and eating undercooked poultry or beef, or to a lesser extent, pork.

Prevention is based on good hygiene practices in the kitchen such as handwashing, cleaning surfaces and kitchen utensils after handling poultry or raw meat and sufficient cooking of meat.

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