In recent years the Netherlands has seen an increase in serious gastric infections requiring hospital admission. Clearly, it is important to ascertain the causes. More detailed research into the most common pathogens, such as Toxoplasma, Norovirus, Salmonella and Campylobacter is needed. RIVM is actively involved in this field.
One of the most important foodborne pathogens in the Netherlands
is Campylobacter spp. This pathogen
caused about 100,000 foodborne illnesses in the Netherlands in
2012. This number had increased continuously from 2003 onwards,
without a clear cause. In the same period the number of
prescription for medication that suppresses acid production in the
stomach, Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) increased continuously as
well. Scientists at RIVM
examined whether there was a connection between the two trends and
found that to be the case. Gastric acid is one of the first
barriers in humans to kill ingested bacteria, because most bacteria
cannot tolerate a low pH.
Increasing the pH by
medication likely makes this barrier less effective and the
individual possibly more sensitive to infection. PPI do have a strong medical
advantage when prescribed for the good cause – far outweighing the
downside of having gastroenteritis – for which RIVM
stresses the importance of good hygiene when preparing meals.