European Food Safety Authority warns resistance levels still high in foodborne bacteria

EUROPE – A sizeable proportion of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria is still resistant to antibiotics commonly used in humans and animals, as in previous years, according to a new report released by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The report was based on antimicrobial resistance monitoring data collected by Member States as part of their EU regulatory obligations and jointly analyzed by EFSA and ECDC with the assistance of external contractors.

 “In humans, high proportions of resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat several types of infections, were reported in a specific Salmonella type known as S. Kentucky (82.1 percent),” the report noted.

It further noted that in recent years, S. Enteritidis resistant to nalidixic acid and/or ciprofloxacin has been increasingly reported in several countries.

Authors of the report observed that the increasing occurrence of fluoroquinolone and/or quinolone resistance in these types of Salmonella probably reflects the spread of particularly resistant strains.

In Campylobacter, resistance to ciprofloxacin is now so common in most countries that this antimicrobial has limited use in the treatment of Campylobacter infections in humans.

Meanwhile, the report noted that the rate of E. coli bacteria in samples from food-producing animals that respond to all antimicrobials tested was found to have increased.

Resistance to some antibiotics declines

Despite an upsurge in resistance to some antibiotics, the report also included some positive findings where resistance was actually declining.

Over the period 2015 to 2019, a decline in resistance to ampicillin and tetracyclines has been observed in Salmonella isolates from humans in eight and eleven EU Member States respectively.

A sizeable proportion of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria is still resistant to antibiotics commonly used in humans and animals, as in previous years.

A decreasing trend was also observed in the prevalence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli in samples from food-producing animals from 13 Member States between 2015 and 2019.

This is an important finding as particular strains of ESBL-producing E. coli are responsible for serious infections in humans.

Moreover, the report noted that combined resistance to two critically important antimicrobials – fluoroquinolones and third-generation cephalosporins in Salmonella remains low. This is also the case for fluoroquinolones and macrolides in Campylobacter.

These critically important antimicrobials are commonly used to treat serious infections from Salmonella and Campylobacter in humans and its a relief that they remain effective in managing foodborne infections associated with these bacteria.

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