Human cases of campylobacter have risen sharply in Sweden in the past few weeks, coinciding with an increase in the disease in broiler flocks, according to the nation’s public health agency (Folkhalsomyndigheten). Cases in humans across the country have risen from around 80 in early July to 161 in the 2nd week of August, with most counties with large populations seeing increases.
Rikard Dryselius, a microbiologist at Folkhalsomyndigheten, told Food Safety News: “We do not know yet whether it is an outbreak or not. The information we have is a sudden increase in the number of human cases that, according to the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA), follows a sudden increase among large broiler flocks. Typing is underway and comparisons will be performed.”
While campylobacter infection is more common in the summer, the increase has come following a period when cases have been very low in both humans and broilers during the first half of the year. The public health agency believes this could be down to the Covid-19 pandemic, as similar patterns have also been observed for other diseases.
An additional explanation could also be the low level in broilers, according to statistics from the SVA. Over the past 3 years, researchers have compared campylobacter from fresh chicken bought in stores during the summer and human cases. Evidence suggests that a third of cases could be linked to poultry meat and the majority to Swedish conventionally bred chicken.
Source: Poultry World