Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Germs Remains an Issue in US

Antibiotic resistance in foodborne illness caused by bacteria like Salmonella showed positive and negative trends

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Foodborne illnesses can be unpleasant enough, but when they are resistant to the antibiotics meant to treat them, the situation can become much more serious.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some aspects of the antibiotic resistance issue in the US have improved, but some have worsened.

The report found that the overall rates of antibiotic resistance in Salmonella fell, but antibiotic resistance in certain strains related to typhoid fever were found to be high.

"Clean kitchen surfaces and utensils thoroughly."

The new report, the "2012 National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) Annual Human Isolates Report," analyzed data from all 50 states. The data included information on illnesses caused by a number of foodborne bacteria, including Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Vibrio and Campylobacter.

Data from 2012 on rates of antibiotic resistance of these bacteria were compared to data from 2003 to 2007.

On the positive side, CDC found that multi-drug resistance in Salmonella fell from 14 percent of cases in 2003 to 2007 down to 9 percent of cases in 2012.

However, when looking at one specific form of Salmonella, Salmonella typhi, which causes the illness typhoid fever, rates of resistance to a type of medication called ciprofloxacin were found to be high. In 2012, 68 percent of Salmonella typhi were found to be resistant to this medication.

CDC also reported that while antibiotic resistance of the bacteria Campylobacter had not worsened, it also had not improved in several years. Resistance of this bacteria to ciprofloxacin stayed steady at 25 percent of cases, which CDC noted was the same rate seen in 2006 when regulations to ban the use of this medication in poultry were implemented.

In a CDC news release, Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases Deputy Director, explained that the new data show mixed signs of progress.

“Our latest data show some progress in reducing resistance among some germs that make people sick but unfortunately we’re also seeing greater resistance in some pathogens, like certain types of Salmonella,” said Dr. Tauxe.

“Infections with antibiotic-resistant germs are often more severe," explained Dr. Tauxe. "These data will help doctors prescribe treatments that work and to help CDC and our public health partners identify and stop outbreaks caused by resistant germs faster and protect people’s health.”

It is important to note that Campylobacter was only measured in 10 states. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.

This report was released online July 1 by CDC. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
July 2, 2014
Last Updated:
July 3, 2014