Animal transmitted human infections decline in 2020

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Animal transmitted human infections decline in 2020, Norway
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A recent study shows a decline in human infections from animals due to what researchers put down to greater isolation and reduced travel. Pathogens in food producing animals however, remained stable during the same period.

The study undertaken by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute says that the diseases transmitted between humans and animals, known as zoonoses, decreased during 2020 (Covid-19 aside). The diseases where there was the greatest decline wer for campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and E. coli infections.

Anecdotal evidence had already suggested that the outbreaks of these diseases had halved during the lockdown, but this study confirms that the number of outbreaks had fallen from 46 to 23.

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This report is supported by others although one suggests that domestic transfer of Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and Yersinia had in fact increased during the same period.

Animal Salmonella and Campylobacter infections

The number of reported cases of salmonellosis decreased in 2020 to 440 from almost 2,000 the previous year. More than a quarter were caused by Salmonella Enteritidis, however the numbers are believed to be lower than in some other counties as Norwegian food-producing animals are only rarely infected with the disease.


Testing in 1,342 poultry farms, found one with positive cases of salmonella and only one from 3,245 samples taken from slaughter pigs. A total of 5,905 cattle were examined, with only one found to be positive.

The surveillance program included testing live animals such as pigs, poultry and cattle and fresh pig and cattle meat.

People infections


Of the 2,422 cases of campylobacteriosis in Norway during 2020, 62 percent contracted the disease in the country with the origins of the balance unknown. The number was higher than expected due to a waterborne outbreak.

The higher number of infections from Norwegian sources is put down to people having travelled less and therefore more likely to have spent their summer in the country.

Animal borne infection implications

Whilst the Norwegian study is a relatively small sample by international standards, the results which show the decline in human infections as a result of reduced travel and greater isolation will be helpful in the understanding the knock-on affects of any further pandemics.


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