Each year, RIVM presents an update on the number of illnesses caused by 14 enteric pathogens (such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or Listeria) that can be transmitted by food into the human body. This food-related disease burden is expressed in Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY), an internationally used measure for the sum of the Years Lost due to Disability (YLD) and the Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to premature mortality in a population. The number of DALYs due to the 14 pathogens is estimated at 4,200 in 2017, which is lower than in 2016 (4,700 DALY’s).
In addition to this disease burden, the cost-of-illness (COI) related to the 14 food-related pathogens was estimated. These include healthcare costs, but also the costs for the patient and or his family, such as travel expenses. Costs in other sectors, for example due to work absence, were also included. The costs associated with the 14 pathogens transmitted to people by food amounted to 163 million euros. This is less than the cost in 2016 (173 million euros).
Different exposure routes
The investigated pathogens are transmitted to humans not only by food (about 40 percent), but also via the environment (for example, surface water), animals, and human to human. The relative contribution of the various exposure routes differ by pathogen. The total disease burden of all routes is estimated at 11,000 DALYs, which is lower than in 2016 (12,000 DALYs). The total COI caused by the 14 pathogens is estimated at 391 million euros, which was lower than in 2016 (436 million). The differences in DALYs and COI are largely due to fluctuations in the type of infections that occur, the burden of disease they cause and the varying costs per infection.