This scientific output, published 15 December 2010, replaces the earlier version published on 7 July 2010
Zoonoses are infections and diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans. The infection can be acquired directly from animals, or through the ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs. The severity of these diseases in humans can vary from mild symptoms to life-threatening conditions. The zoonotic bacteria that are resistant to antimicrobials are of special concern since they might compromise the effective treatment of infections in humans. In order to follow the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria isolated from animals and food, information is collected and analysed from all European Union Member States.
In 2008, 25 Member States submitted information on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria to the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority. In addition, two countries that were not European Union Member States provided information for the report. Assisted by its contractor, the Technical University of Denmark, the European Food Safety Authority analysed all the data, the results of which are published in this Community Summary Report. Information on antimicrobial resistance was reported regarding Salmonella, Campylobacter, indicator Escherichia coli, and indicator enterococci isolates from animals and food. The quantitative data on antimicrobial resistance were interpreted using harmonised epidemiological cut-off values defining the resistant isolates. This makes the data more comparable between reporting countries.
Resistance to antimicrobials was commonly found among Salmonella, Campylobacter, and indicator E. coli and enterococci isolates from animals and food in the EU. For many tested antimicrobials, large differences in the occurrence of resistance were observed between the Member States.
Among Salmonella isolates, resistance to the commonly used antimicrobials of tetracycline, ampicillin and sulfonamide were frequently reported, and the proportion of resistant isolates in animals varied between 13%-47% in the reporting MS group. The resistance levels were higher in isolates from pigs and cattle compared to isolates from fowl. However, resistance to ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid was highest among Salmonella isolates from Gallus gallus where it reached 18%-19%, at reporting MS group level.
Antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter isolates was more common than in Salmonella isolates from food and animals. Resistance to ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid varied between 34%-62% in the reporting MS group, and were highest among Campylobacter isolates from Gallus gallus and broiler meat.
Within indicator E. coli isolates, resistance to tetracycline, ampicillin and sulfonamide were common and reported resistance levels ranged from 18% to 55% in the reporting MS group. Resistance levels were lowest among E. coli isolates from cattle. Resistance to ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid in E. coli isolates varied between 3% and 46%, and were highest for isolates from fowl. Among indicator enterococci isolates, resistance to tetracycline and erythromycin were common, varying from 27% to 71%. Resistance to vancomycin was also recorded among the enterococci isolates.
The observed high ciprofloxacin resistance levels in Salmonella, Campylobacter and indicator E. coli isolates are of concern, since fluoroquinolones are critically important antimicrobials in human medicine. Other critically important antimicrobial groups in human medicine include macrolides and third generation cephalosporins and some resistance to these antimicrobial groups were also recorded among the Salmonella, Campylobacter, indicator E. coli and enterococci isolates tested.