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Posted: 2018-02-28

Emerging AMR threats “alarming”, EU report says
“We are concerned to see that Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in humans show high levels of antimicrobial resistance."
Humans and animals continue to show resistance 

A new report on antimicrobial resistance highlights “alarming” emerging threats, according to EU health officials.

The findings, based on data from 2016, show there is resistance to carbapenems in poultry, despite the fact that these antibiotics are not authorised for use in animals.

Experts also found two livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in pigs that were linezolid-resistant. Linezolids are one of the last resort drugs used to treat infections caused by highly resistant MRSA.

For the first time, four countries are found to have ESBL-producing Salmonella Kentucky with high levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin. These bacteria are not possible to treat with critically important antibiotics.

In addition, one in four infections in humans were found to be caused by Salmonella bacteria that shows resistance to three or more antimicrobials that are commonly used in humans and animals. This figure rose significantly in S Kentucky (76.3 per cent) and S infantis (39.4 per cent).

Marta Hugas, chief scientist at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), commented: “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, chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), added: “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.”

Other key findings
  • low levels of colistin resistance (two per cent) in Salmonella and E coli in poultry
  • low to very low levels of combined clinical resistance to critically important antimicrobials in poultry in Salmonella (0.2 per cent), Campylobacter (one per cent) and E coli (one per cent)
  • in humans, Campylobacter bacteria showed high resistance to widely used antibiotics - ciprofloxacin resistance was 54.6 per cent in C jejuni and 63.8 per cent in C coli; tetracycline resistance was 42.8 per cent in C jejuni and 64.8 per cent in C coli. Combined resistance to the CIAs is stable and overall low (0.6 per cent in C jejuni and 8.0 per cent in C coli). However, in some countries, at least a third of C coli infections were multi-drug-resistant to important antibiotics.

The findings also show a great deal of variation in AMR from one EU country to another. Prevalence of ESBL-producing E coli in poultry range from low (less than 10 per cent) to extremely high levels (more than 70 per cent).

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for health and food safety, commented: “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.”

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