Antimicrobial resistance still a ‘threat to public health’

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Antimicrobial resistance still a ‘threat to public health’

Related tags: Antimicrobial resistance, Antibiotic resistance

Bacteria from humans and animals continue to show resistance to antimicrobials, according to a new report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The report, based on data from 2016, confirmed antimicrobial resistance as one of the biggest threats to public health, mainly by reducing the effectiveness of treatment options.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for health and food safety, said: “Levels of antimicrobial resistance still differ significantly from one EU country to another. To win the fight, we need to join our efforts and implement stringent policies on the use of antibiotics across sectors. It is vital that we all renew our commitment to fight antimicrobial resistance by focusing on the key areas set out in the EU One Health Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance.”

Among the new findings in the report are detection of resistance to carbapenem in poultry, an antibiotic which is not authorised for use in animals, and of ESBL-producing Salmonella Kentucky with high resistance to ciprofloxacin in humans, which was reported for the first time in four countries.

The report also showed that campylobacter bacteria, which caused the most common foodborne disease in the EU, showed high resistance to widely used antibiotics (ciprofloxacin resistance 54.6% in C.jejuni and 63.8% in C.coli; tetracyline resistance 42.8% in C.jejuni and 64.8% in C.coli). The levels of resistance increased in two of the three analysed antibiotics (ciprofloxacin and tetracycline), but combined resistance to the critically important antimicrobials is stable and overall low (0.6% in C.jejuni and 8.0% in C.coli). In some countries, however, at least one in three C.coli infections were multidrug-resistant to important antibiotics, leaving very few treatment options for severe infections.

Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said: “The detection of resistance to carbapenems in poultry and to linezolid in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in pigs is alarming because these antibiotics are used in humans to treat serious infections. It is important that risk managers follow up on these findings.”

Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s chief scientist, said: “We are concerned to see that Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in humans show high levels of antimicrobial resistance. The fact that we keep detecting multidrug-resistant bacteria means that the situation is not improving. We need to investigate the origins and prevent the spread of highly resistant strains, such as ESBL-producing Salmonella Kentucky.”

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