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Austria reports on Campylobacter and control campaigns

2024-04-16 Food Safety News

Tag: Austria


The number of Campylobacter cases reported in 2023 in Austria remained stable compared to the year before, according to recently released statistics.

In 2023, 6,271 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported. This is similar to the 6,295 cases in 2022. After a significant decline in 2020, the number of infections rose but remained below levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost a quarter of the sick people were hospitalized in 2023 and eight deaths were registered.

In all federal states except for Salzburg, Tyrol, and Vienna, there was a decrease in incidence compared to the previous year.

Campylobacter highlights
An increased incidence of infections was recorded in the summer months, with the most cases in June to September. There was also a short-term rise at the beginning of the year.

Illnesses occurred in all age groups, with children under 5 years old and young adults aged 15 to 24, the most affected groups. Men were more impacted than women.

Of 2,108 Campylobacter isolates, 1,857 were Campylobacter jejuni, 238 were Campylobacter coli, and 13 were other types of Campylobacter.

From infections in 2023, almost 10 percent were acquired abroad. The percentage of Campylobacter coli infections acquired abroad was higher than that of Campylobacter jejuni cases. Travel-related infections came from 71 countries including Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Indonesia, and Spain.

According to the antimicrobial resistance surveillance system, resistance rates were extremely high and very high for fluoroquinolones at 84 percent for Campylobacter jejuni and 89.6 percent for Campylobacter coli, and tetracyclines at 52.6 percent for Campylobacter jejuni and 40.6 percent for Campylobacter coli, respectively.

Targeted campaign results
Meanwhile, a recent control campaign included random checks to ensure compliance with good hygiene practices in the commercial kitchens of nursing and retirement homes, as well as hospitals to protect particularly sensitive groups in community facilities.

More than 200 samples were examined for spoilage and indicator bacteria but only one was non-compliant because Enterobacteriaceae and mesophilic aerobic bacteria values were above guideline and warning amounts. Slightly increased levels of mesophilic aerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and Bacillus cereus were found in four samples.

Another action collected data on how frequently Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) occur in raw pork. Of 97 samples from across the country, Campylobacter coli was detected in one sample and STEC in another.

The prevalence of Campylobacter coli in fattening pigs has almost doubled from 2008 to 2021. Contamination of raw pork with STEC is increasingly being reported in Germany and Salmonella in pig production has been an EU-wide problem for years.

The two positive samples were unpackaged and refrigerated with instructions including heat before consumption. The E. coli positive was STEC O139:H1, which is classed as having low human pathogenicity.

A separate campaign assessed pathogens and hygiene in retail sliced sausages, pates, and cheeses.

Slicing meat products and cheese is a processing step that carries a high microbiological risk. To manage this, cutting machines are treated with disinfectants that may contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs). These substances can be removed by thorough cleaning with warm water.

Of 89 samples, two contained the non-pathogenic Listeria welshimeri. Results showed, as seen in previous campaigns, residues of cleaning agents in samples. Quaternary ammonium compounds above the quantification limit were detected in 23 samples.


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