December 2, 2023

Antibiotic Resistant Foodborne Illness On the Rise In The EU

Cases of foodborne illness in Europe are frequently resistant to antibiotics, according to a new report based on data collected from the 26 European Union member states for 2010.

The report, by the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) in Sweden and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Italy, shows that Salmonella and Campylobacter, the main causes of foodborne illness in the EU, are resistant to several antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin.

The new report adds weight to what the ECDC has maintained for a number of years: antimicrobial resistance has become a major public health threat in the EU.

The ECDC website states “Misuse of antibiotics leads to the emergence and selection of resistant bacteria. Doctors in Europe and worldwide now are sometimes facing situations where infected patients cannot be treated adequately because the responsible bacterium is totally resistant to available antibiotics.”

The ECDC has a database and interactive map of antibiotic resistance in the EU on its website. “Data from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net)  [database] show that there is a gradient North-South with low rates in Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands and high rates in Southern Europe. Countries with lower resistance rates have generally lower use of antibiotics, whereas countries with higher antibiotic resistance rates use more antibiotics.”

To halt the spread of antibiotic resistance throughout the EU, the  ECDC advocates a three-pronged strategy

  • Use antibiotics only when they are needed, at the correct dosage and duration.
  • Take hygiene precautions, such as proper handwashing technique, to prevent cross-transmission of resistant strains.
  • Research and develop new antibiotics.
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