Updated data in Europe shows resistance to commonly used antimicrobials was frequent in Salmonella and Campylobacter isolates from humans. 

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said findings and trends were consistent with previous years.

When antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs in bacteria present in animals and food that cause human infections, it can also compromise the effectiveness of treatment of infectious diseases in people. The ECDC analyzed data on isolates from human cases. Data were provided by the 27 EU member states and Northern Ireland, Iceland, Norway, North Macedonia, and Switzerland.

The report covers 2021 to 2022 AMR monitoring in Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and Campylobacter coli from humans and food-producing animals such as broiler chickens, laying hens and fattening turkeys, fattening pigs, and cattle under one year of age and their meat.

EFSA and ECDC said that while there had been positive results from actions to reduce AMR, continued joint efforts were essential to tackle the threat. 

Salmonella situation
Combined resistance to critically important antimicrobials for human medicine remains very low, except in certain types of Salmonella and Campylobacter coli in some countries.

For Salmonella, resistance to carbapenems was found in isolates from humans but not from food-producing animals. Detection of resistant Salmonella isolates varied based on their animal origins, serovars and reporting countries.

In Salmonella from human cases in 2022, resistance to ampicillin, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines was observed at overall high levels, while resistance to third-generation cephalosporins was at very low to low levels for cefotaxime and ceftazidime.

A moderate occurrence of resistance to ciprofloxacin was observed in human cases in 2022; however, an extremely high proportion of resistant isolates was noted in Salmonella, Kentucky.

Combined resistance to ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime, categorized as the highest priority critically important antimicrobials, was meager in Salmonella isolates from humans. Salmonella Kentucky and Salmonella Infantis from humans had higher levels of combined resistance.

Multidrug resistance (MDR) was overall high for Salmonella reported in humans in the EU, ranging from low levels for Salmonella Enteritidis to very high among Salmonella Kentucky and monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium.

Campylobacter findings
Data from 2021 to 2022 from Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli from human and animal origins showed high levels of resistance to fluoroquinolones. The report said they can no longer be recommended to treat Campylobacter infections in humans.

Resistance to erythromycin, representing the macrolide class, a critically important antimicrobial for treating human Campylobacter infections, was detected at shallow levels in Campylobacter jejuni from humans. However, higher resistance levels were found in Campylobacter coli isolates from people. Resistance to tetracycline was high in Campylobacter jejuni and extremely high in Campylobacter coli from humans.

Combined resistance to ciprofloxacin and erythromycin in Campylobacter is highly relevant to public health. Resistance to these antimicrobials was lower in Campylobacter jejuni isolates than in Campylobacter coli isolates from humans.

Multidrug resistance levels were generally very low for Campylobacter jejuni isolated from humans but higher for Campylobacter coli.

WHO Europe on AMR
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe office has published an AMR guidance document for food safety agencies.

The publication overviews the current context and recent developments around foodborne antimicrobial resistance. It looks at the role of food safety authorities in reducing AMR. It provides updated advice on preventing and controlling AMR at the animal–human–environment interface using the One Health approach.

Antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, are essential to treat some human and animal diseases. Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in food-producing animals have contributed to the challenge of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens being passed on to people through the food chain and the environment.

Growing resistance to the most commonly used antimicrobials and last-resort antimicrobials is observed in foodborne pathogens. International trade and travel have also expanded, leading to an increased risk of the spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in food.

The role of food safety authorities in tackling AMR includes improving the policy and legal framework, strengthening One Health governance structures and coordination across sectors, performing a risk analysis of foodborne AMR, and monitoring AMR in priority foodborne pathogens in the food chain. They also promote risk communication and education.

The document includes examples of interventions and programs by member states in the region to prevent and contain antimicrobial resistance in foodborne pathogens.

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