According to the EFSA and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's (ECDC) annual joint report on animal infections transmissible to humans (zoonotic diseases), Salmonella infections in are down in the UK but Listeria and Campylobacter infections are on the rise.
Zoonotic diseases affect over 350,000 people in the EU every year. The report states that Campylobacter is the most common infection, and that resistance of Campylobacter bacteria to one commonly used antimicrobial drug, ciprofloxacin, is reaching levels high enough to cause concern.
EFSA executive director, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, said: "The 2006 zoonoses report shows that the "farm to fork" approach for food safety and protecting public health is vital. Listeriosis is on the increase and bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter are still being found in animals on the farm, the food on our table and, unfortunately, in humans."
ECDC director Zsuzsanna Jakab, said: "An alarming fact highlighted in the 2006 report is that zoonotic bacteria found in animals and in humans are becoming increasingly resistant to commonly used antibiotics. This trend should be of concern for all those working with animal and human health issues."
Salmonella, although experiencing a fall in the number of cases for a third successive year, remains second in the list of human zoonotic diseases across the EU with 160,649 people infected in 2006 (35 cases per 100,000) compared to 173,879 confirmed cases in 2005 (38 people per 100,000). Salmonella infections can cause diarrhoea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. The majority of human Salmonella infections have their origins in eggs, poultry meat, pig meat, and even spices and herbs.
The number of human listeriosis cases was up by 8.6% in the EU from 1,427 cases in 2005 to 1,583 in 2006, with the number of cases per 100,000 having increased by 59% over the last five years.
Although few in number compared to Campylobacter and Salmonella, Listeria cases have a high mortality rate, particularly among vulnerable groups such as the elderly. It is also very dangerous to pregnant women as it can cause foetal infections, miscarriages and stillbirths. Ready-to-eat foodstuffs, such as cheeses and fishery and meat products, tended to be at the origin of most human infections.
Over 175,000 people in the EU suffered from Campylobacter infections in 2006. 46 cases in every 100,000 people were reported in 2006, falling from 52 cases per 100,000 in 2005 (195,426 confirmed human cases in 2005). Campylobacter infections generally cause an inflammatory and sometimes bloody diarrhoea with cramps, fever and pain. The most common foodborne route of infection is through poultry meat.
The summary report, full report and annexes are available on EFSA's website at: