To access the full report, please click on the image.

With the exception of “notable increases, especially in multidrug-resistant Salmonella,” government analysis of data from 2015 shows overall levels of antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens is low.

The annual report on data from NARMS — the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System — is only a snapshot in time in terms of pathogen trends, but it provides crucial information to help make government agencies make decisions about how to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human and animal health.

Referred to as the “Integrated Report,” the data also helps epidemiologists during foodborne illness outbreak investigations, according to a news release from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Yearly NARMS reports spotlight resistance patterns in bacteria samples from humans, raw retail meat, and animals at slaughter. They include information from whole-genome sequencing on resistance genes for all Salmonella and some Campylobacter isolates, according to FDA.

Analysis of 2015 data shows a continuing upward trend for drug-resistant Salmonella and Campylobacter, but there was good news from the turkey industry.

From 2014 to 2015 the proportion of retail ground turkey Salmonella isolates that were resistant to at least one antimicrobial declined from 73 percent to 57 percent. In the past, the majority of isolates from turkey sources have been resistant to at least one antimicrobial.

Even though NARMS data includes bad news, government officials believe some of the numbers should improve as the impact of relatively recent changes in federal guidelines on the use of antibiotics in livestock.

To view a larger version of this graph, please click on the image.

The FDA’s “Guidance for Industry 213” was not in the equation for the 2015 statistics. It ends the use of “medically important” antibiotic medications to promote growth in livestock. Illustrating the impact of the guidance, domestic sales and distribution of antimicrobials for livestock, which increased by 26 percent from 2009 through 2015, increased only 2 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Also, the agency’s veterinary feed directive now requires that most medicated animal feeds only be used under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The findings in the NARMS Integrated Report combines 2015 data from the FDA with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Highlights from the report include:

  • In Campylobacter isolates from humans and chicken carcasses, erythromycin resistance rose three- to five-fold between 2011 and 2015.
  • Quinolone resistance in Salmonella may be increasing.
  • Of Salmonella isolates from humans, 76 percent showed no resistance to any of the 14 antimicrobial drugs tested. However, among isolates showing resistance, multidrug resistance rose from 9 percent to 12 percent.
  • Azithromycin resistance in Salmonella is still rare, but in some strains, it was seen alongside resistance to other antibiotics.

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