Antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, are substances used to kill micro-organisms or to stop them from growing and multiplying. They are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases.
Antimicrobial resistance refers to the ability of micro-organisms to withstand antimicrobial treatments. The overuse or misuse of antibiotics has been linked to the emergence and spread of micro-organisms which are resistant to them, rendering treatment ineffective and posing a serious risk to public health. A well known example of a bacterium that has acquired resistance to multiple antibiotics is Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Resistant bacteria can spread through many routes. When antimicrobial resistance occurs in zoonotic bacteria present in animals and food it can also compromise the effective treatment of infectious diseases in humans.
In the field of food safety, policy-makers need to protect consumers from risks related to the food chain and to establish the best control options to reduce such risks. Scientists and risk assessors are examining the factors which may lead to the presence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in food and animals to provide appropriate scientific advice to decision-makers.
Treatment options for some of the most common food-borne infections are decreasing, as types of bacteria (called ‘isolates’) continue to show resistance to antimicrobial drugs. For example, multi-drug resistant isolates of Salmonella continue to spread across Europe. Also, high resistance to the antimicrobial ciprofloxacin in Campylobacter isolates in both humans and animals has been reported in some Member States. Encouragingly, co-resistance to critically important antimicrobials for both bacteria remains low. These are some the findings of the latest EFSA-ECDC European Union Summary Report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food, which analyses data from 2013.
Fuente de la información: EFSA (European Food Safety Authority)