Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria infections have all increased in Ireland in 2022, according to the latest figures.
Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) as part of the Health Services Executive (HSE) shows an increase in the number of reports of four pathogens compared to 2021.
Notifications of salmonellosis doubled and the number of E. coli infections surpassed 1,000.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic response and the limited capacity of HPSCs, a full report on these four pathogens and outbreaks has not been published since 2018.
Campylobacter infections increased from 3,147 in 2021 to 3,619 in 2022. There are more than 2,000 male cases and more than 1,590 female cases. The age groups under 1 to 4 and over 65 are most affected.
Salmonella cases double from 173 in 2021 to 342 in 2022, but this is similar to 2018 and 2019 levels.
Of those affected, 168 were men and 174 were women. The age group 1 to under 4 has the highest number of cases, but the 25 to 34 and 45 to 54 age groups also have high numbers of cases.
E. coli and Listeria
noticed 1,000 Multiple Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) notifications. That’s up from 962 in 2021.
When the gender is known, there are 480 males and 517 females. The age group 1 to under 4 has been most affected so far with more than 330 cases, while the age group 65 and over has 206 cases.
A total of 18 cases of listeriosis have been recorded, up from 15 in 2021. There are 14 males and 4 females. Fifteen cases were in the age group over 65 years, and 2 cases were younger than 1 to 4 years.
Figures also show 3 cases of Bacillus cereus foodborne infection or poisoning, compared to zero in 2021.
Published data covering 2018 to 2022 revealed two cases of botulism, but it was unclear whether food was the cause. There is also a brucellosis report for 2022. No notifications of such diseases were reported in all other years.
There will be 17 cases of yersinia in 2022 compared to 18 in 2021. Cryptosporidiosis cases decreased from 845 in 2021 to 566 in 2022.
Shigellosis rises from 70 in 2021 to 157 in 2022. Norovirus also increased from 439 in 2021 to 990 in 2022.
FSAI research needs
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI ) published 37 research needs for 2023.
FSAI annually lists priority areas of research to guide scientists at national agencies and research institutions funding such work. Research on the topics in the paper will help advance FSAI’s risk assessment and risk management work and support the protection of public health.
The agency said food safety research was vital to address any knowledge gaps, support regulations, and identify emerging issues and threats to Ireland’s food system.
Areas covered include automated systems to identify emerging risks, impacts of climate change and sustainability, food safety risks of new production methods, food safety culture, traceability of fresh produce , safety of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, reduction of E. coli and Campylobacter in chicken and other sources in Ireland.
Current priorities for vulnerability assessments include beef, lamb, pork, poultry and whitefish supply chains, according to the document, which also mentions that developing methods to detect food authenticity issues is key
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