The European Union has released a summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and foodborne outbreaks in 2015.

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of elderly consumers (age 64 and up) contracting listeriosis increased significantly.

In 2015, European Union Member States reported a total of 2,206 human cases of listeriosis. The number of Listeria-related deaths last year--approximately 270--is the highest number ever reported in the EU.

Of all listeriosis cases reported in 2008, 56.2 percent were elderly patients. In 2015, that number rose to just over 64 percent.

The total number of listeriosis cases has doubled in 84 years.

“It is concerning that there continues to be an increasing trend of Listeria cases which mostly occur in the elderly population. ECDC is working together with Member States to enhance surveillance for food- and waterborne diseases, starting with Listeria, as earlier detection of relevant clusters and outbreaks can help prevent further cases,” says Mike Catchpole, chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is a public health threat that can and needs to be addressed.”

?Listeria seldom exceeded the legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods, the most common foodborne source of human infections. However, it is important that consumers follow manufacturers’ storage instructions and the guidelines given by national authorities on the consumption of foods,” says Dr. Marta Hugas, head of biological hazards and contaminants with the European Food Safety Authority.

The EU’s summary report also represents the most recent data on foodborne infections linked to Campylobacter and Salmonella. In 2015, there were 229,213 reported Campylobacter--which continues to be the EU’s most commonly reported foodborne illness in Europe--cases in the EU. The second most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU--salmonellosis--experienced 94,625 cases in 2015, compared to just over 92,000 in 2014. It is believed that the increase in reported cases is likely due to better surveillance and diagnostic methods.

There were 4,362 reported foodborne outbreaks in 2015. The most common cause of outbreaks was Salmonella associated with consumption of eggs. However, the number of Salmonella outbreaks has fallen by 41 % since 2010.

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