Thursday, January 22, 2009
EFSA Tracks European Zoonoses
Source of Article: http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/8933/efsa-tracks-european-zoonoses
EU - The
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control (ECDC) have published their Community Zoonoses Report for 2007, which analyses the occurrence
of infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
The Report shows
that although figures varied considerably between Member States,
Campylobacter infections still topped the list of zoonotic
diseases in the European Union and that the number of cases due to Salmonella
infections in humans fell for the fourth year in a row. Cases of listeriosis remained at the same level.
2007, infections from Campylobacter were again the most frequently reported zoonotic disease in humans across the European Union with
200,507 cases compared to 175,561 in the previous year, an increase of 14.2
per cent. Regarding Salmonella, although the number of cases showed a
decrease for a fourth successive year, 151,995 people were affected by the
bacterium in 2007 compared to 164,011 in 2006. The number of Listeria
infections in humans in 2007 remained at the same level as in 2006 with 1,554
confirmed cases; Listeria also showed the highest mortality rate, especially
among vulnerable groups.
“The 2007 Zoonoses Report shows that many bacteria
are still being transmitted from animals to our food. It is good to see that
Salmonella is on the decline likely due to the control measures taken along
the food chain. Campylobacter and Listeria in food are still of concern and
need to be addressed,” EFSA’s Director of
Scientific Cooperation, Hubert Deluyker said.
ECDC’s Head of Surveillance, Andrea Ammon, added: “Although tackling Salmonella and
Campylobacter infections remains a top priority, we are particularly
concerned by the high proportion of deaths amongst older people as a result
of infection with Listeria. We have also noted a high proportion of new born
babies among the cases of listeriosis. ECDC is
working closely with EFSA in a joint effort to find out more about the
transmission of Listeria infections and what prevention measures can be taken
to reduce the number of cases and deaths”.
In foodstuffs, Campylobacter, which generally causes diarrhoea,
cramps and fever in humans, was mostly found in raw poultry meat with an
average of 26 per cent of samples showing contamination. In live animals,
Campylobacter was found in poultry, pigs and cattle. Poultry and pig meat
were reported as the foods most frequently associated with Salmonella, and on
average 5.5 per cent of all fresh poultry meat samples within the European
Union was found to be contaminated. Eggs and egg products were also found to
be contaminated, while the bacterium was only rarely detected in raw dairy
products, vegetables and fruits. In animal populations, Salmonella was most
frequently detected in poultry flocks. In 2007, the Commission launched a new
control programme against Salmonella in breeding
poultry flocks and at the end of that year 15 Member States had already met
the legal target of 1 per cent, which is set for end 2009.
Listeria, although less frequent in humans compared to Campylobacter and
Salmonella, showed a high mortality rate of 20 per cent, particularly amongst
vulnerable groups such as the elderly. Listeriosis
is also very dangerous to pregnant women as it can cause foetal
infections, miscarriages and stillbirths. Results showed some cases of
Listeria above the legal safety limit in ready-to-eat foods, most often in
smoked fish and other fishery products, followed by meat products and cheese.
The importance of a zoonosis as a human infection
does not depend only on its incidence in the population, but also on its severity,
as some may cause serious illnesses or have higher mortality rate, despite
relatively low number of cases. This is the case for instance of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), which accounted
for a total of 2,905 human infections in the European Union. Among animals
and foodstuffs, VTEC was most often reported in cattle and bovine meat, and
very rarely in vegetables.
Also, the number of yersiniosis cases in humans in
2007 was 8,792, with the bacterium being found mostly in pigs and pig meat. The
two parasitic zoonoses trichinellosis
and echinococcosis were reported in 779 and 834
human infections respectively within the European Union. The report also
provided data on other zoonotic diseases, such as
brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis and rabies.