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Antimicrobial Resistant Foodborne Bacteria Levels Rising

02 March 2015

ANALYSIS - Salmonella and Campylobacter show significant levels of resistance to common antimicrobials in humans and animals.

The options for treating some of the most common forms of food-borne illnesses are getting fewer and fewer because they are showing more signs of antimicrobial resistance.

Multi-drug resistant forms of Salmonella are spreading across Europe according to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority.

And there is also high resistance to the antimicrobial ciprofloxacin in Campylobacter in both humans and animals in some Member States.

The report, EFSA-ECDC European Union Summary Report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food, which analyses data from 2013, says that encouragingly, co-resistance to critically important antimicrobials for both bacteria remains low.

For the first time, EFSA and ECDC have used similar criteria to interpret data.

“Findings in antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals and foods are now more comparable. This is a step forward in the fight against antimicrobial resistance”, said Marta Hugas, Acting Head of EFSA’s Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Department.

“The high levels of resistance to fluoroquinolones observed in Campylobacter isolates from both humans and broilers are of concern considering that a large proportion of human Campylobacter infections come from handling, preparation and consumption of broiler meat. Such high resistance levels reduce the effective treatment options for severe human Campylobacter infections”, said Mike Catchpole, Chief Scientist at ECDC.

The report shows that resistance in Salmonella to commonly used antimicrobials was frequently detected in humans and animals (especially broilers and turkeys) and derived meat products.

Multi-drug resistance was high (in humans 31.8 per cent, in broilers 56.0 per cent, in turkey 73.0 per cent, and in fattening pigs 37.9 per cent).

The report said that the continued spread of particularly multi-drug resistant clones reported in both human and animal (broilers, pigs and cattle) isolates was of concern.

Resistance to commonly used antimicrobials in Campylobacter was frequently detected in humans and animals (especially broilers, pigs and cattle).

In food, resistance was detected in broiler meat. Resistance to ciprofloxacin, a critically important antimicrobial, was particularly high in humans (meaning that treatment options for serious infections with these zoonotic bacteria are reduced). In Campylobacter jejuni more than half of both human and broiler isolates (54.6 and per cent 54.5 per cent respectively) were resistant, alongside 35.8 per cent in cattle. In C. coli two thirds of humans and broiler isolates (66.6 per cent and 68.8 per cent respectively) were resistant along with 31.1 per cent of pig isolates.

Levels of co-resistance to critically important antimicrobials in Salmonella were low (in humans 0.2 per cent, in broilers 0.3 per cent, and in fattening pigs and in turkey there was none).

Levels of multi-drug resistance and co-resistance in Campylobacter to critically important antimicrobials were generally reported at low to moderate levels in animals (in C. jejuni isolates from broilers and cattle 0.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively, in C. coli isolates from broilers and fattening pigs 12.3 per cent and 19.5 per cent, respectively) and at low levels in humans (1.7 per cent in C. jejuni and 4.1 per cent in C. coli).

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

Top image via Shutterstock

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