EFSA: EU Salmonella cases climbed in 2016

by Erica Shaffer
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PARMA, Italy – Human cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infections increased 3 percent since 2014, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said in a recent report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and foodborne outbreaks 2016. Salmonella Enteritidis was the most widespread type of Salmonella, accounting for 59 percent of the 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the European Union in 2016, EFSA reported.

Additionally, Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks at 22.3 percent, an increase of 11.5 percent compared to 2015. EFSA reported that salmonellosis caused the highest number of hospitalizations — 1,766, or 45.6 percent of all hospitalized cases — and deaths, accounting for 10 (50 percent) of all deaths among outbreak cases.

The trend is causing concern among public health officials in the EU because infections caused by Salmonella Enteritidis have been declining since 2007 when the EU developed a surveillance program and implemented control measures in poultry.

“The decrease of Salmonella has been a success story in the EU food safety system in the last 10 years,” Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said in a statement. “Recent S. Enteritidis outbreaks contributed to a change in this trend in humans and poultry. Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understand the reasons behind the increase.”

Campylobacter infections also increased in 2016, according to EFSA. The foodborne pathogen was detected in 246,307 individuals representing a 6.1 percent increase compared to 2015.

And Listeria infections continued to rise in 2016, according to the report, with listeriosis cases advancing 9.3 percent (2,536 cases) and 247 deaths compared to 2015.

EFSA based its report on 2016 data collected from all 28 EU Member States. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reported on some of the zoonotic agents. Data related to Salmonella Enteritidis excluded cases associated with travel outside the EU.

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