Campylobacteriosis remains the most reported zoonotic disease in humans , with a continuous increase in reported cases over the last five years.
The trend in reported human cases of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC/STEC) has also been increasing since 2008 and was further strengthened due to the outbreak in the summer of 2011.
Salmonella cases in humans have continued to fall, marking a decrease for the seventh consecutive year. These are some of the main findings of the annual report on zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks in the European Union for 2011 produced jointly by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
In 2011, a total of 220,209 Campylobacter cases were reported in humans, 2.2% more than in 2010. This bacterium can cause diarrhea and fever, and the most common foodstuff in which Campylobacter was found was chicken meat.
VTEC/STEC bacteria accounted for 9,485 human disease cases in 2011. The strong increase observed in 2011 was primarily due to the large outbreak of the rare strain O104:H4 in Germany and France associated with sprouted seeds; however, an increasing trend had already been reported in previous years. Infection with VTEC strains can lead to bloody diarrhea and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a serious complication that can be fatal. With respect to the presence of this bacterium in animals and foodstuffs, VTEC was most often reported in bovine meat products and cattle.
Although salmonellosis has declined significantly in the last years, in 2011 it was still the second most frequently reported zoonotic disease in humans, accounting for 95,548 reported cases. The continued decrease in human cases reflects the results of the Salmonella control programmes put in place by EU Member States and the European Commission which have led to a decline in Salmonella infections in poultry populations, particularly laying hens (and hence eggs) and chickens. Salmonella, which can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, was most often found in fresh chicken meat, as well as minced chicken meat and chicken meat preparations.
The report also shows a total of 5,648 foodborne outbreaks recorded across the EU in 2011. Foodborne outbreaks include two or more human cases in which the same contaminated food has been consumed. These affected 69,553 people and caused 93 deaths. Salmonella continued to be the most frequently reported cause of the outbreaks with known origin (26.6 % of all outbreaks), followed by bacterial toxins (12.9%) and Campylobacter (10.6%).
The most common food sources of the outbreaks were eggs and egg products, mixed food, fish and fish products.