EUROPE – The latest EU One Health zoonoses report, compiled by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), has revealed a decline in Campylobacter and Salmonella infections in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
However, the report also highlights a 44% increase in reported foodborne illness outbreaks, reaching levels similar to those in 2018–2019, resulting in the highest number of outbreak-related deaths in the past decade (64).
The report reveals a marginal reduction of 210 cases in campylobacteriosis, with 137,107 cases reported in 2022.
Meanwhile, salmonellosis witnessed a contrasting trend, surging by 5,039 cases to reach 65,208. Despite these fluctuations, the rates of confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants remained steady at 43.1 for campylobacteriosis and 15.3 for salmonellosis.
Efforts to control Salmonella, a major contributor to human cases, showcased progress. Nineteen Member States and the United Kingdom met established targets for reducing Salmonella prevalence in poultry populations.
However, an uptick in Salmonella-positive flocks was noted in breeding turkeys, highlighting challenges in specific sectors of the poultry industry.
Yersiniosis emerged as the third most reported zoonosis in humans in 2022, linked to the consumption of undercooked pork or vegetables.
Additionally, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections and listeriosis, caused by L. monocytogenes, were reported. Both Listeria and STEC, notorious for severe and fatal foodborne illnesses, posed threats, especially to vulnerable populations.
Deadly outbreaks steal the spotlight
Reported foodborne illness outbreaks surged by 44%, reaching 5,763 outbreaks in 2022.
A grim milestone was reached with 64 deaths, primarily attributed to L. monocytogenes and, to a lesser extent, Salmonella.
Notably, a major multi-country outbreak linked to a monophasic variant of Salmonella Typhimurium, associated with chocolate-based products, disproportionately affected children.
Clostridium perfringens toxins in ‘other or mixed red meat and products thereof’ became a noteworthy concern, causing the highest number of cases in strong-evidence outbreaks reported by EU Member States.
Outbreaks associated with the consumption of ‘mixed foods’ witnessed a considerable increase in 2022, signifying challenges in food safety measures.
According to the report, the increased use of WGS may have enhanced surveillance sensitivity, leading to improved outbreak detection in the EU.