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Monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents

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Monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents

Protecting human health against diseases and infections transmissible directly or indirectly between animals and humans is of paramount importance. Member States are responsible for collecting data via their monitoring systems and for the epidemiological investigation of outbreaks. The European Commission is promoting cooperation and exchange of information and evaluating trends at European level.


Directive 2003/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents, amending Council Decision 90/424/EEC and repealing Council Directive 92/117/EEC [See amending act(s)].


The European Union is stepping up monitoring of zoonoses *, zoonotic agents * and related antimicrobial resistance. It has laid down minimum requirements applicable in the Member States to reinforce their existing monitoring systems, through which they collect, analyse and disseminate data on these phenomena with a view to identifying and characterising hazards, assessing exposure and defining the associated risks.

Increased monitoring of zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance

The Member States are responsible for establishing and maintaining monitoring systems. Monitoring is at the level of primary production * or other stages of the food chain, including in feed and food.

As a priority, the monitoring concerns the following zoonoses: brucellosis, campylobacteriosis, echinococcosis, listeriosis, salmonellosis, trichinellosis, tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli.

The monitoring also concerns, depending on the epidemiological situation, viral zoonoses (calicivirus, hepatitis A virus, influenza virus, rabies, viruses transmitted by arthropods), bacterial zoonoses (borreliosis, botulism, leptospirosis, psittacosis, tuberculosis other than that specified above, vibriosis, yersiniosis and agents thereof), parasitic zoonoses (anisakiasis, cryptosporidiosis, cysticercosis and toxoplasmosis), etc.

The monitoring methods specify:

  • the animal population or subpopulations and stages in the food chain to be covered by monitoring;
  • the nature and type of data to be collected;
  • sampling schemes and the methods of analysis to be used;
  • frequency of reporting of diseases or risks.

In some cases, data collected through routine monitoring are insufficient. Coordinated monitoring programmes for one or more zoonoses may prove necessary in order to assess specific risks or establish base-line values.

Member States are responsible for ensuring that monitoring provides comparable data on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and, where necessary, other important agents. Resistance means the ability of a microorganism to survive or to grow in a given concentration of an antimicrobial agent that is usually sufficient to inhibit or kill microorganisms of that species. Monitoring of antimicrobial resistance will supplement the monitoring of human isolates conducted in accordance with Decision No 2119/98/EC setting up a network for the epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases in the Community.

Investigating food-borne outbreaks

The competent authorities in the Member States will investigate food-borne outbreaks, gathering data on the epidemiological profile, the foodstuffs potentially implicated and the potential causes. The competent authorities will submit an annual report to the Commission on the results of the investigations, which will be forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Facilitating information exchange

The exchange of information is necessary to obtain exhaustive and comparable data at European level. In each Member State one or more competent authorities cooperate with the authorities responsible for animal health, feed and food hygiene. Community and national reference laboratories are also designated.

Member States will assess trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and antimicrobial resistance and submit a report to the Commission by the end of May each year. The Commission will forward these reports to the EFSA, which will examine them and publish a summary report by the end of November each year.

Key terms of the Act

  • Zoonosis: any disease and/or infection which is naturally transmissible directly or indirectly between animals and humans.
  • Zoonotic agent: any virus, bacterium, fungus, parasite or other biological entity which is likely to cause a zoonosis.
  • Primary production: the production, breeding or cultivation of primary products, including the rearing, processing and production of farm animals before slaughter. It also covers the hunting, fishing and harvesting of wild products.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2003/99/EC



OJ L 325, 12.12.2003

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/104/EC



OJ L 363, 20.12.2006

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009



OJ L 87, 31.3.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2003/99/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Decision 2007/407/EC of 12 June 2007 on a harmonised monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella in poultry and pigs [Official Journal L 153 of 14.6.2007].

Commission Decision 2004/564/EC of 20 July 2004 concerning Community reference laboratories for the epidemiology of zoonoses and for salmonella and national reference laboratories for salmonella [Official Journal L 251 of 27.72004].

See also

Last updated: 15.04.2011