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Joint Opinion on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focused on zoonotic infections

EFSA Journal 2009; 7(11):1372[78 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1372
  EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) Panel Members Advisory Forum (ECDC) members: BIOHAZ Panel Members (EFSA): Olivier Andreoletti, Herbert Budka, Sava Buncic, John D Collins, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Havelaar, James Hope, Günter Klein, James McLauchlin, Winy Messens, Christine Muller-Graf, Christophe Nguyen-The, Birgit Noerrung, Luisa Peixe, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, John Sofos, John Threlfall, Ivar Vågsholm, Emmanuel Vanopdenbosch. EFSA-Q-2008-781 doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1372 CVMP Members (EMEA): and SAGAM/CVMP Members (EMEA): SCENIHR Members: Acknowledgment ECDC: Anna-Pelagia Magiorakos, J. Todd Weber, Dominique L. Monnet. EFSA: J. Daniel Collins (Vice Chair), Seamus Fanning, Luisa Peixe, Chris Teale, John Threlfall (Rapporteur), in addition the BIOHAZ Panel wishes to thank EFSA‟s staff member Ernesto Liebana for the support provided to this scientific output. EMEA: Gérard. Moulin (Chair), Boudewijn Catry, Christian Friis, Kay Goodyear, Kari Grave, Cristina Muñoz, Jordi Torren, Karolina Törneke and John Threlfall (Rapporteur). SCENIHR: Jim Bridges, Herman Goossens, Philippe Hartemann, Jean-Yves Maillard, Jean-Marie Pagès. Contact
Type: Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel On request from: European Commission Question number: EFSA-Q-2008-781 Adopted: 28 October 2009 Published: 16 November 2009 Last updated: 23 November 2009. This version replaces the previous one/s. Affiliation: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

No abstract available


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) have published a joint scientific opinion on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focused on infections transmitted to humans from animals and food (zoonoses).

The joint opinion concludes that bacterial resistance to antimicrobials has increased in recent years worldwide, making it more difficult to treat some human and animal infections. It says surveillance activities should be strengthened and the development of new antimicrobials and new strategies to combat the spread of resistance encouraged. Research is needed on other alternative strategies to control infectious diseases in animals.

The opinion says there is specific concern about bacterial resistance to antibiotics used in the treatment of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections, the two most reported zoonotic infections in Europe, and points out which antibiotics are considered of high concern for their treatment. It says that although the use of antibiotics is considered the main factor in the development of bacterial resistance, the use of biocides (including disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives) may also contribute to bacterial resistance.

The opinion on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic infections highlights that globalisation of food trade and frequent travel to countries outside the EU make it difficult to compare resistance data from surveillance programmes at EU level and to assess the impact of those strains coming from outside the EU. It also adds that the differences in levels of antimicrobial resistance in the various EU countries make it difficult to have a single strategy to fight against this threat.

Food-borne infections caused by these bacteria very often originate from contamination during slaughter of animals or food processing. The opinion says that at present there are no data available to demonstrate that the use of antibiotics in human medicine may also have an impact on the resistance of zoonotic bacteria.

The opinion repeats previous recommendations that prudent use of antimicrobials in animals should be strongly promoted and that veterinarians and farmers should be educated on strategies to minimise antimicrobial resistance. Other previous recommendations said antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins should be reserved for treating conditions which respond poorly to other antimicrobials.


Antimicrobial resistance, usage of antimicrobials, biocides, Campylobacter, cephalosporins, E. coli, emerging risks, foodborne zoonoses, macrolides, MRSA, multidrug resistance, quinolones, Salmonella, veterinary medicines.