Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella and Campylobacter remains high

The level of antibiotic resistance in Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria is still significant, according to a report summary published this week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms such as fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria to resist antimicrobial treatments. It happens when these microbes are exposed to antimicrobial drugs, i.e. antibiotics, over time. AMR is a natural process yet has been accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in the past two decades, becoming a significant global challenge nowadays. It makes treatments ineffective, posing a serious risk to public health, and consequently causes a great economic burden.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are the bacteria that cause Salmonellosis and Campylobacteriosis respectively, among the most common and frequently reported foodborne diseases.  

The report highlights that Campylobacter bacteria from humans and poultry continue to show very high resistance to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic often used in humans.  

There are also growing trends of resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics observed in humans and chicken for both Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enteritidis, the most common type of Salmonella in humans. The level of resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics of these bacteria in animals was generally moderate to high. Meanwhile, combined resistance to critically important antimicrobials, which is defined as resistance to two different antimicrobials, remains low in Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli from both humans and food-producing animals. Although the resistance to tetracyclines and ampicillin in Salmonella from both humans and animals is still high, a declining trend is observed in the resistance to these antibiotics in several Members States over the period of 2016 to 2020.    

This report summary is the result of analysing data provided by the 27 EU Member States, 2 European Economic Area countries (Iceland and Norway), Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The outcomes provide an overview of the current situation, including AMR trends in Europe and robust evidence for decision making.