Swedish disease data points to reduced COVID-19 impact in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect reports of other diseases in 2021, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten).

A summary of the epidemiological annual report for 2021 shows that foodborne diseases, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, increased slightly compared with 2020 but the number of cases was still down on levels before the pandemic in 2019.

Figures for several infectious diseases continued to be at low levels during 2021 but the role of Coronavirus measures were not as clear as in 2020.

In 2021, fewer cases of notifiable infectious diseases were reported than before the pandemic, but the difference was not as large as it was in 2020.

Impact on foodborne diseases
Yersinia, E. coli and Hepatitis A increased compared to 2020, while Shigella cases were unchanged.

The decrease was largely due to the continued low number of people infected abroad, according to the report. For Cryptosporidium, infections decreased for the second year in a row, while the situation was stable for Listeria.

Detailed annual reports on each disease will be published later this year.

There were more than 4,000 Campylobacter infections in 2021, compared to almost 3,500 in 2020 and 6,700 in 2019. Almost 950 Salmonella infections were reported in 2021 versus 826 in 2020 and nearly 2,000 in 2019.

The number of E. coli infections went up to 653 in 2021 from 491 in 2020 but decreased from 755 in 2019. A total of 313 Yersinia cases were recorded in 2021, 221 in 2020 and 393 in 2019. In 2021, 107 Listeria infections were noted compared to 88 in 2020 and 113 in 2019.

“There is probably an effect of infection control measures against COVID-19 and changed behaviors, but the connections are complex. We will see an increase in infectious diseases when people meet more and more people travel abroad,” said state epidemiologist Anders Lindblom.

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