EFSA Antimicrobial resistance remains high
The report shows that in general multi-drug resistance in Salmonella bacteria is high across the EU. However, experts note that resistance to critically important antimicrobials used to treat severe human cases of Salmonella infection remains low. Salmonellosis, the disease caused by these bacteria, is the second most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU.
The report also highlights that antimicrobial resistance levels in Europe continue to vary by geographical region, with countries in Northern and Western Europe generally having lower resistance levels than those in Southern and Eastern Europe. Marta Hugas, Head of EFSA’s Biological Hazards and Contaminants unit, said: “These geographic variations are most likely related to differences in antimicrobial use across the EU. For example, countries where actions have been taken to reduce, replace and re-think the use of antimicrobials in animals show lower levels of antimicrobial resistance and decreasing trends.
The report also includes the following findings that may have a public health impact: Resistance to carbapenem antibiotics has been detected for the first time as part of EU-wide annual monitoring in animals and food. Carbapenems are usually the last remaining treatment option for patients infected with multi-drug resistant bacteria to other available antibiotics. Very low levels of resistance were observed in E. coli bacteria found in pigs and meat from pigs.
Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli has been detected in beef, pork, pigs and calves. Bacteria that produce ESBL enzymes show multi-drug resistance to β-lactam antibiotics, which include penicillin derivatives and cephalosporins. The prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli varied across countries, from low to very high (find out more from our data visualisation tool).
Resistance to colistin has been found at very low levels in Salmonella and E. coli in pigs and cattle. Colistin may be commonly used in some countries for the control of infections in animals, especially in pigs. In some circumstances it may be used as a last-resort antibiotic in humans.
More than 10% of the tested Campylobacter coli bacteria in humans showed resistance to two critically important antimicrobials (fluoroquinolones and macrolides), which are used to treat severe cases of Campylobacter infections in humans. Campylobacteriosis is the most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU.