EU Data on Antimicrobial Resistance Heightens Global Concerns

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Parma, Italy – Data released in late February by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reveal that antimicrobials used to treat diseases transmitted between animals and humans are becoming less effective, according to a statement released by the EFSA.

The data was submitted by 28 EU Member States (MSs) and jointly analyzed by EFSA and ECDC and focused on four antibiotic resistant bacteria: zoonotic Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Scientists looked at incidences of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria found in food and young humans and animals and incidences of E. coli and MRSA found in animals and food only. According to the report, which refers to 2017 data, resistance to fluoroquinolones (such as ciprofloxacin) is so high in Campylobacter bacteria in some countries that these antimicrobials no longer work for the treatment of severe campylobacteriosis cases.

Most countries reported that Salmonella in humans is increasingly resistant to fluoroquinolones. Multidrug resistance (resistance to three or more antimicrobials) is high in Salmonella found in humans (28.3 percent) and animals, particularly in S. Typhimurium.

In Campylobacter, high to extremely high proportions of bacteria were found to be resistant to ciprofloxacin and tetracyclines. However, combined resistance to critically important antimicrobials was very low to low in Salmonella and Campylobacter from humans and animals and in indicator E. coli from animals.

“Carbapenemase-producing E. coli were detected in the mandatory, specific monitoring for ESBL/AmpC/carbapenemaseproducing E. coli in fattening pigs in Germany. The detection of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in the environment of a swine farrow-to-finish operation in the United States was also recently reported (Mollenkopf et al., 2017). These findings are important, because carbapenems are critically important in human medicine, the authors said in the report summary. Pigs are the main animal reservoir for monophasic S. Typhimurium while S. Typhimurium is commonly found in most food-production animals, though most common in pigs and cattle (EFSA and ECDC, 2018b), they noted.

The EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety noted that national policies in some countries limiting antimicrobial use have led to a decrease of antimicrobial resistance. In June 2017, the European Commission adopted the EU One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance, calling for effective action against this threat and recognizing that it needs to be tackled in both human health, animal health and the environment. The prudent use of antimicrobials is essential to limiting the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans and animals.

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