There are currently no EU standardised rules for the reporting and monitoring the parasites Echinococcus, Trichinella, Cysticercus and Sarcocystis. As a result, analysing and interpreting any data submitted to EFSA for the community summary report is difficult. This EFSA project (with part funding from the FSA - Project #M01050) aims to develop harmonised schemes by specifying which animal species should be monitored, the study populations, the stages at which sampling should take place, the sample size as well as analytical and diagnostic methods and data collection on different levels.
Research Approach: <BR> The project involved literature searches as well as expert opinion and engaging relevant networks. A harmonised monitoring scheme was developed by specifying which animal species should be monitored, the study populations, the stages at which sampling should take place, the sample size as well as analytical and diagnostic methods and data collection on different levels.
Results and findings:<BR> The preliminary harmonised monitoring scheme proposed for Trichinella, relies on compartmentalisation to identify regions and categories of animals at lower risk of Trichinella infection in which reduced testing could be carried out. The scheme proposes the introduction of an additional low risk monitoring region that does not exist under current EC regulations. Reduced testing would apply to fattening pigs, from low risk or negligible regions. The scheme is a framework, which would allow countries that have gathered sufficient evidence to fall into the low risk or negligible regions groups and then continue to provide evidence as proposed. If carried out reliably public health should not be compromised and the scheme should have economic benefits and free resources that could be applied to official meat controls for animals slaughtered and direct supplied to consumers. The detection method of choice for all animal species is still the artificial digestion method, presently considered the gold standard. <P>
Harmonised schemes are proposed for the monitoring and reporting of Echinococcus in animals and foodstuffs in the EU. For E. granulosus, EFSA recommended the monitoring of intermediate hosts at slaughterhouse level through meat inspection and mandatory notification of any positive cases. The genotyping to subspecies level should be performed to improve the strain identification. The animal producers must then be notified to improve and adopt corrective and preventative measures. In the case of E. multilocularis information should be obtained by monitoring the definitive host (fox or racoon dog) in order to identify geographical risk areas. The use of post-mortem intestine analysis as well as notification of any positive cases is recommended. Additional information from wildlife would be needed to determine the geographical distribution of the parasite. <P>
Harmonised schemes are proposed for the monitoring and reporting of Cysticercus. Current monitoring in EU Member States is performed by visual inspection according to EC Regulation 854/2004, in carcasses of bovine animals over six weeks old and in swine during meat inspection at the slaughterhouse. This is because more sensitive methods are not yet available or fully validated for routine diagnosis. However, central recording and reporting of results needs to be improved, including data on the type of infection (light or heavy) and type of animal (adults cattle, calves, and pigs). Moreover the development and validation of a serodiagnostic test for bovine cysticercosis for use as a routine surveillance tool is recommended. <P>
The current disease situation and national monitoring of Sarcocystis was reviewed to identify the relevance of the parasite for public health. Two specie S. suihominis and S. bovihominis are recognised to have zoonotic significance and to be relevant to Member States. Due to a lack of data from the Member States, the impact on human health is unclear as well as the situation in animal populations. Limitations are also related to the commonly used detection method, visual inspection at the slaughterhouse, which does not allow differentiation between the two zoonotic species from the non-zoonotic ones. Consequently a harmonised scheme for monitoring Sarcocystis cannot be justified from a public health perspective without further evidence.
<P>View the <a href="http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/doc/36e.pdf" target="_blank">Scientific Report</a> submitted to EFSA.