Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria is still high, says a report released today by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Campylobacteriosis was the most reported zoonosis in the EU in 2020 and the most frequently reported cause of foodborne illness. Campylobacter bacteria from humans and poultry continues to show very high resistance to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, that is commonly used to treat some types of bacterial human infection.
Increasing trends of resistance against the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics has been observed in humans and broilers for Campylobacter jejuni. In Salmonella Enteritidis, the most common type of Salmonella in humans, increasing trends of resistance to the quinolone/fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics were observed. In animals, resistance to these antibiotics in Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella Enteritidis were generally moderate to high.
However, despite the increasing trends of resistance against certain antibiotics, simultaneous resistance to two critically important antibiotics – remains low for E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter in bacteria from both humans and food-producing animals.
A decline in resistance to tetracyclines and ampicillin in Salmonella from humans was observed in nine and ten countries, respectively, over the period 2016-2020, and this was particularly evident in Salmonella Typhimurium. Despite the decline, resistance to these antibiotics still remains high in bacteria from both humans and animals.
Furthermore, in more than half of the European Union countries, a statistically significant decreasing trend in the prevalence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli was observed in food-producing animals. This is an important finding as particular strains of ESBL-producing E. coli are responsible for serious infections in humans.
Carbapenem resistance remains extremely rare in E. coli and Salmonella from food-producing animals. Carbapenems are a class of last resort antibiotics and any findings showing resistance to these in zoonotic bacteria are concerning.
Although findings and trends are consistent with data reported in previous years, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the amount of data reported, particularly with regards to public health.
An interactive data visualisation tool shows resistance levels in humans, animals and food, country-by-country in 2019 and 2020.
Additionally, the human food and waterborne antibiotic resistance data is published in ECDC’s Surveillance Atlas of Infectious Diseases (under the diseases campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and shigellosis, respectively).