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Continued efforts needed to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans and animals

Resistance of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria to commonly used antimicrobials continues to be observed frequently in humans and animals, according to a report issued today by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).


However, the combined resistance to critically important antimicrobials for human medicine remains very low, except in some types of Salmonella and Campylobacter coli in some countries.

Moreover, there has been an increase in the proportion of Escherichia coli isolates from food-producing animals that exhibit ‘complete susceptibility’ or ‘zero resistance’ to key antimicrobials. This, alongside a decrease in the prevalence of E. coli isolates that produce ESBL or AmpC — enzymes which can make some antibiotics ineffective — demonstrates progress in reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in E. coli from food-producing animals across several EU Member States.

Carlos Das Neves, EFSA Chief Scientist and Mike Catchpole, ECDC Chief Scientist said: “While we have seen positive results from actions to reduce AMR, continued joint efforts are essential to tackle this global threat. The One Health approach reminds us that addressing AMR requires collaboration across different sectors, such as human health, animal health and the environment”.

For Salmonella, resistance to carbapenems was found in isolates from humans, but not from food-producing animals; for E. coli, carbapenem resistance was detected in isolates from food-producing animals[1]. Although the occurrence of carbapenem resistance is currently reported at very low levels in isolates from both humans and animals, a higher number of countries have reported bacteria producing carbapenemase enzymes in various animal species in recent years. This requires attention and further investigation since carbapenems are a last-resort group of antibiotics and any detection of resistance to them is concerning.

Between 2013 and 2022, for humans, at least half of the reporting countries observed increasing trends in resistance to fluoroquinolones in Salmonella Enteritidis and Campylobacter jejuni isolates, usually associated with poultry. This finding is of public health concern, as in the rare occasions when Salmonella or Campylobacter infections turn into severe illness, fluoroquinolones are amongst the antimicrobials used for treatment.

One-third of the countries observed decreasing trends in macrolide resistance in Campylobacter isolates from humans, in particular for C. coli. This is noteworthy as increased resistance to fluoroquinolones means that macrolides are becoming more important for the treatment of severe foodborne infections in humans.
In two-thirds of reporting countries, resistance in isolates from humans to penicillins and tetracyclines decreased over time in Salmonella Typhimurium -which is usually associated with pigs and calves. These antimicrobials are often used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals.

Antimicrobial resistance remains a major public health concern that needs to be tackled on various fronts and by different actors. Key actions are needed to reduce the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. These include promoting prudent use of antimicrobials; supporting improvements in infection prevention and control practices; strengthening research and innovation in developing new antimicrobials; and ensuring that policies and procedures are in place at the national level.

EFSA is also publishing several interactive communication tools.




An interactive data visualisation tool shows resistance levels in humans, animals and food, country-by-country in 2021 and 2022.

Antimicrobial resistance in Europe
Check out the interactive infographic

As in the previous years, 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).

[1] For additional data on carbapenem resistance in Salmonella  isolates from humans and E.coli isolates from food-producing animals, please consult Antimicrobial resistance in the EU/EEA (EARS-Net) - Annual epidemiological report for 2022

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