Zoonoses are infections and diseases that are naturally transmissible directly or indirectly, for example via contaminated foodstuffs, between animals and humans. The severity of these diseases in humans varies from mild symptoms to life-threatening conditions. In order to prevent zoonoses from occurring, it is important to identify which animals and foodstuffs are the main sources of infections. For this purpose information aimed at protecting human health is collected and analysed from all European Union Member States.
In 2011, 27 Member States submitted information on the occurrence of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks to the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority. Furthermore, information on cases of zoonoses reported in humans was provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. In addition, three European countries that were not European Union Member States provided information. The European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control jointly analysed the data, the results of which are published in this annual European Union Summary Report, which covers 10 zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks.
In 2011, the notification rate and confirmed number of cases of human campylobacteriosis in the European Union increased compared with 2010. Human campylobacteriosis continued to be the most commonly reported zoonosis with 220,209 confirmed cases. The number of confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis in the European Union has followed a significant increasing trend in the last four years, along with a clear seasonal trend. The proportion of Campylobacter-positivefood and animal samples remained at levels similar to previous years, with the occurrence of Campylobacter continuing to be high in broiler meat.
The number of salmonellosis cases in humans decreased by 5.4 % compared with 2010 and by as much as 37.9 % compared with 2007. A statistically significant decreasing trend in the European Union was observed over the period 2008-2011. In total, 95,548 confirmed human cases were reported in 2011. It is assumed that the observed reduction in salmonellosis cases is mainly a result of the successful Salmonella control programmes in poultry populations. Most Member States met their Salmonella reduction targets for poultry, and Salmonella is declining in these animal populations. In foodstuffs, Salmonella was most often detected in fresh broiler meat. The food categories with highest proportion of products not complying with the European Union Salmonella criteria were minced meat and meat preparations as well as live bivalve molluscs.
The number of listeriosis cases in humans decreased slightly compared with 2010, and 1,476 confirmed human cases were reported in 2011. As in previous years, a high fatality rate (12.7 %) was reported among the cases. Listeria monocytogenes was seldom detected above the legal safety limit from ready-to-eat foods at point of retail. Samples exceeding this limit were most often found in fishery products, cheeses and fermented sausages.
A total of 9,485 confirmed verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections were reported in 2011, which was a 2.6-fold increase compared with 2010. Of those cases in which the serogroup was known, most were caused by serogroup O157. As many as 1,064 cases were, however, reported of serogroup O104 (20.1 % of cases with known serogroup) due to a large outbreak primarily in Germany. A large number of the cases, 1,006 cases, were also affected by the severe condition, Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome, in 2011. This was a 4.5-fold increase compared with 2010, primarily observed in adult cases and attributed to the German outbreak. The number of reported cases of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli human cases has been increasing in the EU since 2008. In animals and food most verotoxigenic Escherichia coli-positive findings were made in cattle and bovine meat, but the bacteria were also detected in some other animal species and foodstuffs.
A total of 7,017 confirmed cases of yersiniosis were reported in the European Union in 2011, corresponding to an increase by 3.5 % compared with 2010. There was, however, a statistically significant decreasing five-year trend in the European Union in 2007-2011. Among food and animals, Yersinia enterocolitica was mainly isolated from pig meat and pigs.
The number of confirmed human cases due to Mycobacterium bovis in the European Union in 2011 was 132. This was a decrease compared with 2010, with a few Member States accounting for the majority of the reported cases. The reported prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle increased slightly at European Union level, although remained at very low level. This slight increase was, however, due to one Member State that reported an increase in prevalence of bovine tuberculosis for the third consecutive year.
The number of confirmed brucellosis cases in humans continued to decline, and 330 confirmed cases were reported in 2011 at European Union level. The number of brucellosis-positive sheep and goat herds continued to decrease. Bovine brucellosis decreased only marginally compared with 2010.
In 2011, two parasitic zoonoses, trichinellosis and echinococcosis, caused 268 and 781 confirmed human cases in the European Union, respectively. Although the number of cases was slightly higher in 2011 compared with 2010, human trichinellosis cases remained at a low level in the European Union compared with 2009 and previous years. In 2011, Trichinella was found slightly more often in pigs than it was in 2010.The parasite was more prevalent in wildlife than in farmed animals. The number of confirmed human echinococcosis cases in 2011 increased by 3.3 % compared with 2010, primarily as a result of the increasing number of cases of Echinococcus multilocularis, causing alveolar echinococcosis, being reported in 2011, but also on account of an increase over the last five years. Echinococcus multilocularis was reported mainly in foxes by several central European reporting countries.
One imported human case of rabies was reported in the European Union in 2011. The general decreasing trend in the numbers of reported rabies cases in animals continued in 2011. Rabies was reported mainly in wildlife animal species and sometimes in farm and pet animals in some Baltic and Eastern and Southern European Member States.
A total of 5,648 food-borne outbreaks were reported in the European Union, resulting in 69,553 human cases, 7,125 hospitalisations and 93 deaths. Most of the reported outbreaks were caused by Salmonella,bacterial toxins, Campylobacter and viruses; however, the outbreak with most human cases was caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli/verotoxigenic Escherichia coli and associated with sprouted seeds. The most important food sources of the outbreaks were eggs and egg products, followed by mixed food and fish and fish products. Overall, 11 waterborne outbreaks were reported in 2011, caused by Campylobacter, calicivirus, Cryptosporidium hominis and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli.