Salmonella cases in humans in the European Union fell by almost 9 percent in 2010, marking a decrease for the sixth consecutive year, while Campylobacter remains the most reported zoonotic infection in humans since 2005, according to the annual report on zoonoses and foodborne outbreaks released by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Salmonella prevalence in poultry is also declining at the EU level, but the number of Campylobacter cases has been increasing over the last five years.
According to the report, the likely main reasons for the decrease in human salmonellosis cases are the successful EU Salmonella control programs for reducing the prevalence of the bacteria in poultry populations, particularly in laying hens. Salmonella accounted for 99,020 reported human cases of foodborne illnesses in 2010, compared to 108,618 in 2009. It was found most often in chicken and turkey meat. “The positive progress in the reduction of Salmonella cases in humans and poultry is continuing and the majority of Member States met the targets set for the reduction of Salmonella in different poultry flocks in 2010,” said the European Food Safety Authority’s acting director of risk assessment and scientific assistance, Claudia Heppner.
In 2010, a total of 212,064 Campylobacter cases in humans were reported, an increase for the fifth consecutive year with 7 percent more cases compared to 2009. In foodstuffs, Campylobacter was mostly found in raw poultry meat. “The increasing trends in human cases of Campylobacter highlight the need of further joint efforts," said Johan Giesecke, chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control notes. "For this, the [European Food Safety Authority] and [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] will continue to strengthen their links with all important partners and foster collaboration in order to decrease the occurrence of these two diseases in the EU.” In order to combat Campylobacter, the European Commission is currently carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of the control measures for the bacteria at different stages of the food chain.