A new European report has found a positive correlation between human resistance to antibiotics and the consumption of animals with the same resistance. The joint report issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggests that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals eaten by people can compromise the effective treatment of human infections.

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 (AMR) occurs when antimicrobial treatments become ineffective in killing micro-organisms, this typically arises from the overuse or misuse of antibiotics. The results can pose a serious risk to public health as patients are resistant to antibiotics. A well-known example of this is MRSA (Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) a bacterial infection resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA alone resulted in death for 20% of those with infected with invasive MRSA.

The report found that resistance to quinolones, an antibiotic used to treat salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis in humans, is significantly associated with the use of antibiotics in animals. Antibiotic use is higher in food-producing animals than in humans contributing to the development of bacteria resistant to antimicrobial treatments. All animals carry bacteria in their intestines and many can be killed by antibiotics. However, resistant bacteria can survive and multiply and when consumed can result in humans developing the same resistance.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said,

“This new report confirms the link between antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistance in both humans and food-producing animals.”

“To contain antibiotic resistance we need to fight on three fronts at the same time: Human, animal, and the environment,” Andriukaitis said.

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