Antimicrobial resistance remains high, says EU report
Bacteria found in humans, animals and food continue to show resistance to widely used antimicrobials, says the latest report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The findings suggest that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a serious threat to public and animal health. Infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to antimicrobials reportedly lead to about 25,000 deaths in the EU every year.
The report also highlights significant variations between different countries, with those in Northern and Western Europe – including the UK – generally having lower resistance levels than those in Southern and Eastern Europe.
The report, published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), incorporates already-published UK veterinary surveillance data from 2015 and compares them with other countries for the first time.
John FitzGerald of RUMA, the agricultural and food industry alliance which promotes responsible use of medicines in farm animals, welcomed the overview provided by the report and the One Health approach of gathering human, animal and food data together.
“This shows that the work being done to reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use is a priority, and very necessary across both human and veterinary medicine,” he said.
“We hope that the generally lower levels of resistance found in the UK reflect, in part, the responsible use guidelines for farm animals we have had in place through RUMA for the past 20 years. Despite this, the need for further concerted action is clear.”
However, FitzGerald highlighted that while cutting back on antibiotic use should reduce the risk of resistance occurring, there was not always a direct relationship.
“This report found very low levels of resistance to carbapenems in pigs and pig meat, yet carbapenems are neither authorised nor used in food-producing animals. But this doesn’t mean we should lose focus on reductions,” he stressed.
“RUMA and the UK livestock industry are in complete agreement with the report authors, that prudent use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine is extremely important in addressing the challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance. We all have a responsibility to ensure that antibiotics keep working,” added FitzGerald.