Over 25,000 people in the EU are dying each year thanks to superbugs caused by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, safety experts warn.
The EU's commissioner for health and safety said the rise in antimicrobial resistance is "alarming," and that it's putting both humans and animals in danger.
"We have put substantial efforts to stop its rise, but this is not enough," said Vytenis Andriukaiti in a report released Wednesday.
The joint report was completed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The report found that there were high levels of drug resistance in bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, and that some bacteria have begun to show resistance a type of antibiotics that are often the last treatment option for patients that are infected with superbugs.
A microbiologist examines the growth of MRSA bacteria on a plate. (Photo: Gettystock)
“It is of particular concern that some common types of salmonella in humans, such as monophasic salmonella Typhimurium, exhibit extremely high multi-drug resistance. Prudent use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine is extremely important to address the challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance," said Mike Catchpole, chief scientist at the ECDC, in a release.
"We all have a responsibility to ensure that antibiotics keep working."
The report also found different levels of antimicrobial resistance in different regions of Europe. Countries in northern and western Europe, where actions have been take to reduce the use of antimicrobials in animals, had lower levels of drug-resistant bacteria, compared to eastern Europe.The EFSA says there are three key ways to stop the spread of superbugs:
- reducing the use of antimicrobials,
- finding ways to replace the drugs with alternative treatments,
- and rethinking the livestock production system.
The agencies are working to publish a list of indicators to help monitor and reduce the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials for both humans and animals by the end of this year.