Antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria shows continued presence in Salmonella and Campylobacter but the combined resistance remains low concluded an EU report.
However, the high proportions of Salmonella, Campylobacter and indicator E.coli isolates exhibiting resistance to fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin) remain of concern.
The third joint European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report on the resistance of bacteria affecting humans, animals and foods, said the co-resistance to critically important antimicrobials remained low based on data collected by 26 EU Member States for 2011.
It builds on earlier concern that from Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, that that there is a "catastrophic threat" of resistance to antibiotics .
Zoonoses are infections and diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans.
Some antimicrobials are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as critically important for treatment of serious human infections: ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime for Salmonella infection, and ciprofloxacin and erythromycin for Campylobacter infection.
Salmonella and Campylobacter are the main bacteria causing foodborne infections in the European Union (EU), said the agencies.
The resistance among Campylobacter,the primary cause of foodborne diseases, from human cases was high to very high (between 30% and 50%) for ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid and tetracyclines.
Low resistance (3.5%) was recorded for erythromycin, which is the clinically most important antimicrobial for treatment of campylobacteriosis in humans.
The report found that for many of the antimicrobials, the levels of resistance varied greatly between different Member States.
In Salmonella resistance to at least three different antimicrobial classes, was high overall and in humans, a high proportion of salmonella was found to be resistant to commonly used antimicrobials.
Resistance in Salmonella isolates from human cases was high (between 20% and 30%) to ampicillin, tetracyclines and sulfonamides.
However, resistance to critically important antimicrobials such as ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime remained low.
The report said more than half of all Salmonella isolates were susceptible to the complete range of antimicrobials tested.
“If we do not want to lose a number of antimicrobials which today provide an effective treatment against bacterial infections in humans, then joint efforts in the EU, including the Member States, healthcare professionals, industry, farmers and many others are needed,” said Bernhard Url, EFSA’s director of risk assessment and scientific assistance.