Foodborne diseases do not respect borders: the prevalence of foodborne zoonotic bacteria in imported products of animal origin into European Union

PhD thesis defended by Wiebke JANSEN (Prof. Benoît MUYLKENS) - 19/03/2019

Prof. Benoît MUYLKENS, UNamur, Integrated Veterinary Research Unit (URVI)


De Bolle Xavier (UNamur), président; Muylkens Benoît (UNamur), secrétaire; Al Dahouk Sascha (RWTH Aachen University); Mori Marcella (Sciensano, Uccle); Lycklama a Nijeholt Rixta (AFSCA DG Controle); Raes Martine (UNamur); Vermeylen Anne (UNamur)


Globalisation, international travel and trade and the ever-growing flow of goods and people enable zoonotic pathogens to spread worldwide. People and goods move faster than the incubation period of the pathogens they carry. Foodborne zoonoses are of a particular public health concern due to their significant morbidity and mortality rates. The risk to introduce or re-introduce foodborne zoonotic bacteria into the European Union is omnipresent as considerable amounts of food products of animal origin from endemic countries are continuously imported, both legally and illegally. Serious zoonoses such as brucellosis are re-emerging, although eradicated from livestock in most Member States of the European Union. Considerable numbers of domestic human brucellosis cases have been reported annually in non-endemic countries, but the actual source of these autochthonous cases remains to be elucidated.

This thesis compiles pieces of research on the legal background of veterinary public health measures and regulations. The epidemiological studies analysed legally and illegally imported meat and cheese for major foodborne zoonotic pathogens and food hygiene indicator bacteria with a special emphasis on Brucella spp.. The rapid alternative method fluorescence in situ hybridization was developed for the detection of Brucella spp. in milk and cheese.