Scientists from around the world have met in Germany this week to set research priorities on a broad range of zoonoses — food borne diseases that are transmissible from animals to humans. Scientists from the EU zoonoses network Med-Vet-Net and experts from the American Food Safety Research Consortium met this week in Berlin to identify the main risks to health from zoonotic pathogens.

The risk of pathogens traveling across borders has become evident during the recent outbreak of avian influenza worldwide. However diseases such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli have a higher rate of incidence and much larger impact on consumer health and the economy. In Germany alone, 52,000 cases of Salmonellosis were reported last year. Across the EU, Campylobacteriosis cases are on the rise, making it the most common food borne disease in Europe.

Currently, the US is implementing tougher testing standards to stem a spike in Salmonella infections at processing plants. EU regulatory authorities in member states have also been increasing their regulation of the industry due to increases in Campylobacteriosis.

It is estimated that in the European Union alone, food born pathogens generate medical costs of more than $6 billion a year and are set to rise.

The conference, held at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment’s in Berlin, is also being attended by professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.