Foodborne outbreaks and illnesses drop for Slovakia in 2020

Foodborne outbreaks and illnesses drop for Slovakia in 2020

by Sue Jones
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Slovakia recorded a decrease in some human diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites that are transmitted from animals or through food and water in 2020.

In total, 17,067 cases were reported compared to 26,999 in 2019 and the number of outbreaks fell from 902 to 380.

Campylobacter caused the majority of illnesses while Salmonella was behind the most outbreaks.

There were 3,478 cases of salmonellosis in Slovakia in 2020. They were reported in every age group with the most in children from 1 to 4 years old and the least in people aged 35 to 44. The most cases were 460 in July and 458 in August.

Nine imported Salmonella enteritidis infections were recorded; five from Hungary; two from Czech Republic and one each from Cambodia and Cyprus. Meat was linked to three outbreaks but there were 215 Salmonella outbreaks in 2020.

A total of 9,937 food samples were tested in 2020. The percentage of positives increased from 0.4 to 0.67 percent. As in previous years, positive samples were found mostly in broiler meat and meat products. In other foodstuffs, the most frequent serovars were Infantis and Enteritidis.

E. coli, Campylobacter and Listeria
There were 208 reports of illness caused by E. coli, which is 161 less than the previous year.

E. coli was proven in 6 percent of 4,930 tested food samples. STEC was isolated and confirmed in a sample of vegetable sprouts and three grain samples tested positive for E. coli.

There were 4,961 Campylobacter illnesses, which represents a 37 percent decrease in comparison with 2019. There were five imported cases; one from Czech Republic and four from Hungary.

Cases were reported in every age group with the highest incidence in children younger than 1 year old and lowest in adults aged 45 to 54. Disease occurred throughout the year with the most in June, July and August. There were 88 small epidemics affecting two to four people. From 903 samples of food, Campylobacter was confirmed in 28 samples.

Seven Listeria infections were reported, which is 22 percent less than in 2019.

Tests of 4,900 samples of 28 food types were carried out in 2020. The positivity rate was the same as in 2019 at 1.31 percent. As in 2018 and 2019, there were more positives in raw sheep’s milk and raw meat.

A total of 259 Yersinia cases were reported. The most were in November with 26 and January with 21. One small outbreak was recorded with two cases. Culture results confirmed contamination with Yersinia enterocolitica in 52 percent of pork and 44 percent of poultry samples.

Vibrio, toxins and viruses
A total of 75 strains of Vibrio were isolated in foodstuffs in 2020. Vibrio cholerae was detected in eight cases and Vibrio parahaemolyticus four times.

There were two reported cases of infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Tests of 11,336 food items for the presence of coagulase positive staphylococci (CPS) returned above threshold values in 1.26 percent of cases. The most non-compliant category was milk and dairy products.

Staphylococcal enterotoxin was detected in one sample of milk and dairy products. Enterotoxin production was also demonstrated in 26.2 percent of isolates of CPS and coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) from food, mostly frozen creams and ice creams. Thirteen Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates were found in meat and meat products.

There was a significant decrease in hepatitis A virus to 11 infections and no outbreaks were recorded. The number of hepatitis E virus infections also halved to 55. In 273 liver samples from wild animals, the hepatitis E positivity rate was 14.96 percent, mostly in wild boar.

A total of 57 samples of fish and seafood products were tested for larvae of the Anisakidae family. In two cases, larvae of roundworms belonging to this family were found in samples of cod liver from Iceland.

In 2020, 74 Toxoplasma gondii cases were reported. There were 185 cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus and five outbreaks. A total of 129 basin milk samples were tested with a 0.77 percent positivity rate.

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