Zoonoses are diseases or infections, which are transmissible from animals to humans. The infection can be acquired directly from animals, or through ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs. In humans, the gravity of these diseases can vary from mild symptoms to life threatening conditions. The importance of a zoonosis as a human disease depends on several factors, such as severity of the disease, the case fatality, and number of cases (incidence) in the population.
In order to prevent these diseases from occurring, it is important to identify which animals and foodstuffs are the main sources of the infections. For this purpose, information is collected and analysed from all European Union (EU) Member States in order to help the Community to improve control measures in the food production chain and to protect human health.
In 2005, twenty-four Member States submitted information on the occurrence of zoonoses, zoonotic agents, antimicrobial resistance and foodborne outbreaks to the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Further information on zoonoses cases in humans was acquired from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This data covered 16 zoonotic diseases. Assisted by its Zoonoses Collaboration Centre, EFSA and ECDC jointly analysed the information and published the results in this annual Community Summary Report. In addition, three countries not belonging to EU provided information on zoonoses for the report.
The analysis of the 2005 data highlighted campylobacteriosis as the most frequently reported zoonotic disease in humans within the EU. Reported Campylobacter cases increased by 7.8% compared to the previous year rising to an incidence rate of 51.6 cases per 100,000 people and to a total of 197,363 recorded cases. Salmonellosis remained the second most frequent zoonosis with 176,395 reported human cases, despite the fall of 9.5% to an incidence rate of 38.2 compared to 2004.
Amongst foodstuffs, the highest proportion of Campylobacter positive samples was reported for fresh poultry meat, where up to 66% samples were found positive. Campylobacter was also commonly detected from live poultry, pigs and cattle.
Salmonella was most often reported from fresh poultry and pig meat where proportions of positive samples up to 18% were detected. In table eggs, findings of positive samples ranged from 0% to 6%, but over the past 5 years an overall decreasing trend in occurrence of Salmonella in eggs was observed. In animal populations, Salmonella was most frequently detected in poultry flocks.
Salmonella, Campylobacter, and viruses were the most important causes of reported foodborne outbreaks in 2005. Egg and bakery products were the most common sources of Salmonella outbreaks, whereas broiler meat was an important source for both Salmonella and Campylobacter outbreaks. Foodborne virus outbreaks were most often caused by drinking water, fruit and vegetables.
Relatively high proportions of Campylobacter and Salmonella isolates from animals and food were resistant to antimicrobials commonly used in treatment of human diseases.
This is especially the case of resistance to fluoroquinolones in Campylobacter isolates
from poultry, where up to 94% of isolates were reported resistant to ciprofloxacin.
Foodborne infections caused by these resistant bacteria pose a particular risk to humans due to possible treatment failure.
In 2005, a total of 9,630 human yersiniosis cases were reported. Other bacterial zoonoses - listeriosis, infections caused by verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) and brucellosis – accounted for approximately 1,000 - 3,000 reported human cases each, whereas a total of 119 tuberculosis cases caused by M. bovis was registered.
Very few ready-to-eat foods contained Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at levels over a limit that poses a significant risk to human health. Samples exceeding this limit were most often found in fishery products. The lack of serotype and virulence factor information of the VTEC and Yersinia findings in food and animals prevented a proper assessment of the relevance of these findings to human disease cases.
Most of the Member States are either officially free from bovine tuberculosis and bovine or caprine/ovine brucellosis, or reported no positive cases in 2005. However, in some of the non-free Member States prevalence at the levels of 3-4% was still detected in bovine/sheep/goat populations.
The parasitic zoonoses, echinococcosis, and trichinellosis, accounted for 320 and 174 reported human disease cases respectively in 2005. Trichinella was rarely detected in slaughter animals. For both zoonoses, wildlife is an important reservoir of infections.
There is a distinct geographical distribution of the findings of the parasites in the EU. The Toxoplasma parasite was reported from various animal species in 2005.
Four cases of human rabies were reported in 2005, but the infection originated from outside the EU. However, the increased reporting of cases in farm and wild animals in the eastern part of the EU is of concern.
The report also contains information about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, Avian Influenza, Cysticerci and Sarcocystis parasites and Q fever in animal populations.
EUFIC related material
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