Human cases of campylobacteriosis decreased slightly in 2012 for the first time in five years, but campylobacteriosis remains the most commonly reported zoonotic disease and it is premature to suggest that this is the beginning of a downward trend.
Salmonella cases in humans have continued to fall, marking a decrease for the seventh consecutive year. The trend in reported human cases of Listeria has been gradually increasing over the past four years. These are some of the main findings of the annual report on zoonoses and foodborne outbreaks in the European Union for 2012.
Campylobacteriosis is still the most reported disease, accounting for 214,000 cases of infections. Typical symptoms include diarrhoea, fever and headache. The bacterium that causes the disease, Campylobacter, is mostly found in chicken meat.
"It is encouraging to see that cases of campylobacteriosis have gone down in 2012. But more investigation and monitoring is needed to see if this is the beginning of a trend", said Marta Hugas, Acting Head of EFSA's Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Department.
Over the years, salmonellosis has been decreasing- with 91,034 reported cases in 2012. This is mainly due to the successful Salmonella control programmes put in place by EU Member States and the European Commission in poultry, the report said. Most Member States met their Salmonella reduction target for poultry flocks. Salmonella, which typically causes fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting, was most often found in poultry meat.
Johan Giesecke, chief scientist at ECDC, added: "The decreasing trend of salmonellosis is very encouraging. However our evidence shows that any Salmonella serovar can cause human illness which requires continued surveillance and vigilance."
The report provides an accurate overview of which microorganisms cause the most cases of foodborne diseases in the European Union, and in which foods and animals they are found. It helps the European Commission and EU Member States to monitor, control and prevent zoonotic diseases. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) produce it jointly every year, using data collected by EU Member States.