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ECDC report shows that Salmonella levelled off and Listeriosis cases again higher in Europe

ECDC report shows that Salmonella levelled off and Listeriosis cases again higher in Europe

January 5, 2018

Salmonella no longer falling in the EU

The declining trend of salmonellosis cases in the EU has levelled off according to the annual report on zoonotic diseases published in december of last year.

Cases of Salmonella Enteritidis acquired in the EU have increased in humans by 3% since 2014 says the report, which is compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In laying hens, the prevalence increased from 0.7% to 1.21% over the same period.

“The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant,” said Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s Chief Scientist. “Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programmes for S. Enteritidis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the Member State and EU level,” he added.

The 4 786 food-borne disease outbreaks reported in 2016 represent a slight increase in comparison with 2015 (4 362 outbreaks), but the figure is similar to the average number of outbreaks in the EU during 2010–2016.

Outbreaks due to Salmonella are on the rise, with S. Enteritidis causing one in six food-borne disease outbreaks in 2016. Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of food-borne outbreaks (22.3%), an increase of 11.5% compared to 2015. They caused the highest burden in terms of numbers of hospitalisations (1,766; 45.6% of all hospitalised cases) and of deaths (10; 50% of all deaths among outbreak cases).

Salmonella in eggs caused the highest number of outbreak cases (1 882).

Listeriosis cases on the rise, again higher in Europe

The ECDC recently came out with a report “The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks in 2016”.

Summarizing for Listeria:


  • Twenty-eight MS reported 2,536 confirmed invasive human cases of listeriosis for the year 2016. There has been a statistically significant increasing trend of confirmed listeriosis cases in the EU/EEA during the overall period 2008–2016. Half of the MS reported a higher number of listeriosis cases in 2016 compared with 2015. Twelve MS (Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) had a significant increasing trend of confirmed listeriosis cases since 2008. None of the MS observed decreasing trends between 2008–2016.


  • The EU notification rate (total number of confirmed cases/100,000 population) was 0.47 cases per 100,000 population, which was an increase of 9.3% compared with 2015. The highest notification rates were observed for Finland, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia and Denmark.


  • Nineteen MS reported 247 deaths due to listeriosis in 2016. The EU case fatality was 16.2% among the 1,524 confirmed cases with known outcome. There was a steady increase in annual number of deaths recorded since 2008 (annual average: 187). France reported the highest number of fatal cases (53) followed by Germany (48).


  • Listeria infections led to hospitalisation in 97% of reported cases. Information on hospitalization was provided by 17 MS for 38.8% of all confirmed cases in 2016. Listeriosis had the highest proportion of hospitalized cases of all zoonoses under EU surveillance.


  • Twenty-six MS reported 2016 data on the compliance of 10 categories of RTE foods with the Listeria food safety criteria listed in the Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005. The number of MS reporting data on the different RTE food categories, however, varied considerably. Non-compliance estimates in the different RTE food categories were consistently higher at the processing stage (ranging from 0% to 6.3%) compared with retail (ranging from 0% to 1.7%).


  • In 2016, among the different RTE food categories and across all sampling stages, L. monocytogenes was most frequently detected in ‘fishery products’ (5.6%), ‘fish’ (4.7%), ‘pork meat products other than fermented sausages’ (3.1%) and in ‘soft and semi-soft cheeses made from raw milk’ (2.5%). Compared with 2015, there was a noticeable decrease (around 15%) in the sample sizes tested for the major RTE food categories.


  • The annually reported occurrence and compliance estimates for the different RTE food categories may not be adequately robust due to the variation in the number of tested samples and the number of MS reporting data across reporting years. Nonetheless, in 2016, the occurrence of the pathogen in the different RTE food categories in the EU as well as their levels of non-compliance at retail appear to be at comparable or even at lower levels compared with previous reporting years. Based on this, the increase in the number of human listeriosis cases in the EU may not be attributable to elevated consumer exposure via increased occurrence of the pathogen in RTE foods. Recently, the EFSA BIOHAZ Panel proposed that among several risk factors that could be potential drivers for L. monocytogenes contamination of RTE foods and listeriosis illness, also the increase in the number of elderly people as well as the susceptible population was considered as responsible for the increasing trend in cases of human listeriosis.

The report can be read here.



Posted : 2018