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Finnish broilers contain lowest ESBL in EU

Published : 08 Mar 2018, 01:07

Updated : 08 Mar 2018, 07:18

  DF Report
Photo VisitFinland by Elina Manninen.

The lowest prevalence of antibiotic resistant ESBL producing bacteria among EU countries in 2016 was found in Finland in broilers and domestic broiler meat.

According to a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the antibiotic resistance in bacteria transmitted from animals to humans remained common in 2016.

The annually published report of the EFSA and ECDC contains antibiotic resistance data on humans, animals and food. In 2016, the monitoring of bacteria isolated from animals and foodstuffs focused especially on poultry and poultry meat.

The average prevalence was 47 per cent in samples taken from broiler chickens and 57 per cent in samples taken from broiler meat. The corresponding figures in Finland were lower: 14 and 22 per cent respectively. In most EU countries, the prevalence of classical ESBL bacteria was higher than the prevalence of AmpC bacteria. The percentage levels of classical ESBL bacteria found in Finland were the lowest of all EU countries: 4 per cent in broiler and 5 per cent in broiler meat.

In 2016, the same method was used to monitor the prevalence of ESBL in all the countries covered by the report. An Escherichia coli bacterium with particularly high resistance to carbapenems was discovered during the monitoring in two EU countries – Romania and Cyprus.

This is a worrying discovery as carbapenems are used in humans to treat serious infections and they are not authorised for use in animals.

Only low-level colistin resistance was found in the EU in 2016: 2 per cent in salmonella and E. coli in poultry. No colistin resistance was found in Finland.

Colistin is an antibiotic which is considered a last resort in the treatment of infections in humans caused by certain multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Since 2015, colistin resistance genes that are transferable between bacteria have been detected in many countries. Their fast spreading is causing concern globally. Unlike in other EU countries, colistin is not used in Finland in the treatment of animals.

Compared to the average level in EU countries, the antibiotic resistance of campylo bacteria isolated from broilers has remained low in Finland.

The resistance levels of indicator bacteria isolated from healthy animals were also low in Finland. Indicator bacteria do not usually cause diseases to animals or humans. Their resistance is nevertheless monitored because it describes the use of antibiotics at country level.

Furthermore, indicator bacteria may transfer from animals to humans and store resistance factors for disease-causing bacteria.