Bacteria resistant to commonly used antimicrobials still frequently found in humans and animals

News story

Resistance of Salmonella and Campylobacter to commonly used antimicrobials is frequently observed in humans and animals, reveals a report issued today by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

However, simultaneous resistance to critically important antimicrobials for humans was generally detected at low levels, except for some Salmonella types and Campylobacter coli in several countries.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats we face worldwide, affecting humans, animals, and the environment. Working together remains key to tackling this complex problem. In our work, we embody the One Health approach, recognising the close links and interdependency of the health of humans, animals, plants, and the wider environment,”

said ECDC and EFSA chief scientists Mike Catchpole and Carlos Das Neves in a joint statement. 

There were encouraging trends in several countries, where an increasing proportion of bacteria from food-producing animals was susceptible to all tested antimicrobials.  Moreover, the prevalence of Extended-spectrum Beta-lactamases (ESBLs) and AmpC beta-lactamases (AmpC) producing E. coli is decreasing. 

A decline in the resistance of Salmonella to ampicillin and tetracycline was also observed in humans in several countries over the period 2013–2021. This was particularly evident in S. Typhimurium, a type of Salmonella commonly associated with pigs and calves, which is often multidrug-resistant. Data also show decreasing trends in resistance of Campylobacter jejuni to erythromycin in humans and broilers. 

This type of antimicrobial is very important in the treatment of campylobacteriosis. However, the report also shows an increasing trend over the same period in the resistance of S. Enteritidis and C. jejuni to ciprofloxacin in humans. S. Enteritidis and C. jeuni cause most cases of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis infections in humans.  

Similar trends were observed in C. jejuni from broilers between 2009 and 2020, where resistance to ciprofloxacin increased in several countries. The level of ciprofloxacin resistance in Campylobacter is now so high that this antimicrobial can no longer be recommended in the treatment of severe Campylobacter infections in humans.  

Resistance of E. coli to carbapenems remains rare in food-producing animals and humans. Since carbapenems are a class of last-resort antimicrobials, any findings showing resistance to these in zoonotic bacteria are a concern. Therefore, resistance to carbapenems needs to be kept monitored and investigated.   


 EFSA is also publishing several interactive communication tools: 

•    AMR monitoring - story map

•    AMR in indicator E.coli - story map

•    AMR key indicators - dashboard


An interactive data visualisation tool shows resistance levels in humans, animals and food, country-by-country in 2020 and 2021. 

As in the previous years, the human food and waterborne antibiotic resistance data is published in ECDC’s Surveillance Atlas of Infectious Diseases (under the diseases campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and shigellosis, respectively).