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Campylobacter infection: Many Germans carry the dangerous diarrhea germ without knowing it

Campylobacter infection: Many Germans carry the dangerous diarrhea germ without knowing it


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Widespread kitchen germ is unknown to many people

Chicken is particularly often contaminated with Campylobacter, but contamination with the pathogen is also not uncommon for other foods. It is estimated that around nine million Campylobacter infections occur in the European Union every year. However, according to a population survey by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), this diarrhea is unknown to many people in Germany, while almost everyone knows Salmonella, for example.

Widespread kitchen germ is unknown to many people

It is estimated that there are around nine million Campylobacter infections in the European Union every year. These bacteria, which are repeatedly found on foods such as eggs and chicken in this country, cause diarrhea in humans. The pathogens can sometimes be life-threatening for immunocompromised people. Nevertheless, the widespread kitchen germs are unknown to most people, as a recent survey has shown.

Dangerous diarrheal diseases

Campylobacter can cause infections that include symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

In rare cases, complications of Campylobacteriosis can also be Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease of the nervous system.

In immunocompromised patients, a chronic course threatens and in the worst case the infection can reach life-threatening proportions.

Although the Campylobacter kitchen germ poses a serious health risk, so far only less than a third of people have heard of it.

This emerges from a current survey. In contrast, Salmonella knows 96 percent of those surveyed.

What worries citizens

As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) wrote in a communication, salmonella, genetically modified food and microplastics in food are the health and consumer issues that are at the top of the consumer awareness scale.

Nevertheless, over three quarters of Germans consider food to be safe. This is the result of the current consumer monitor - a representative population survey by the BfR.

The most worrying are antibiotic resistance, microplastics and residues of pesticides in food. Overall, citizens are not as worried as in the previous survey in summer 2018.

"Interest in consumer health issues is increasing," said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Despite everything, people underestimate the risks of pathogens in the kitchen."

Campylobacter, the most common bacterial causative agent of diarrhea, is better known than last year - but less than a third of those surveyed heard of it. In contrast, Salmonella knows 96 percent.

The biggest health risks

The BfR consumer monitor provides insights into how Germans perceive health risks every six months.

Around 1,000 people who live in private households and are at least 14 years old are interviewed by phone on behalf of the BfR.

Respondents still perceive smoking, climate and environmental pollution as well as an unhealthy or improper diet as the greatest health risks.

According to the information, the respondents for the first time spontaneously named the pollution caused by diesel exhaust and fine dust as a risk.

When questions are asked about selected topics, salmonella, genetically modified foods and - for the first time in third place - microplastics in foods lead the awareness scale.

This is followed by resistance to antibiotics, residues of pesticides in food and aluminum in food packaging or containers.

Government agencies are less trusted

As in the previous year, antibiotic resistance and microplastics are still the issues most respondents are concerned about.

Compared to the last survey, however, the population is significantly less concerned about antibiotic resistance: here, fears have dropped by eleven percentage points to 57 percent.

Salmonella and carbon monoxide are also less worrying than last year.

Cosmetics and textiles are considered to be similarly safe compared to the previous survey. The feeling of security has decreased slightly with toys.

Fewer people than in 2018 trust government agencies in Germany to protect health. However, over half of those surveyed continue to place their trust in the state. (ad)

Author and source information


Video: Bacterial infections of the GI tract (June 2022).