There are also ‘important differences’ in the consumption of antimicrobials in animals and in humans between European countries.
The findings form part of the first integrated analysis of data from humans, animals and food in Europe published jointly by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The report also identified data limitations ‘which need to be addressed to allow further analysis and conclusions to be drawn’, the report authors said.
These include additional data on antimicrobial consumption by animal species, data on antimicrobial consumption in hospitals in more European countries and monitoring of resistant bacteria in both healthy and diseased people.
The joint report will inform the European Commission’s action plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is now estimated to contribute to more than 25,000 deaths every year in Europe alone.
Dame Sally Davies, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, previously said antibiotic resistant was ‘as big a risk as terrorism’ to the global population.
She highlighted a ‘discovery void’ with few new antibiotics developed in the past two decades coupled with over prescribing which had led to bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to modern medicines.
The latest analysis was commissioned by the European Commission and combined data from five European monitoring networks which
gathered information from the EU member states, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
The farming industry welcomed steps to make better use of existing data and strengthen coordinated surveillance systems on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in human and veterinary medicine.
Farm chiefs said this should, in turn, allow policy-makers to decide on the best way to tackle antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals.
It comes after a report last year by the Select Committee on Science and Technology ‘Ensuring access to working antimicrobials’ acknowledged ‘the main cause of resistance in humans is the overuse/inappropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine’ and not overuse in animals.
MPs stated although ‘there is circumstantial evidence antimicrobial resistance can be transmitted from animal pathogens to human pathogens although the evidence base is incomplete’.
The Parliamentary steering group called for a ‘drastic reduction’ in the amount of antibiotics used in medicine, with no equivalent recommendation for a similarly drastic reduction in farm use.