Bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered to be very alarming following an upward trend and thus posing a primary threat to public health. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. In most cases, antibiotic-resistant infections require extended hospital stays, additional follow-up doctor visits, and costly and toxic alternatives.
AMR has tremendous adverse effects on humans, farm animals, healthcare, the environment, agriculture and, thus, on national economies. Several tools have been proposed and adopted by numerous countries after comprehending the need for antimicrobial stewardship and for a rational use of antibiotics. These tools include diagnostics for infections or AMR detection, for measuring and monitoring antibiotic consumption (e.g. surveillance tools) and for guiding medical doctors and veterinarians in selecting suitable antibiotics. In addition, it has been known that the food chain represents a leading vector for the transmission of pathogens to humans via various routes (direct or indirect).
Considerable efforts have been made and are still in progress both at international and national levels in order to control and mitigate the spread of pathogens and thus ensure food safety. During the last decades, a new concern has risen regarding the food chain playing a potential major role in the transmission of resistant bacteria as well as resistance genes from the animal kingdom to humans. Several recent studies highlight the role of food processing environments as potential AMR hotspots contributing to this spread phenomenon.
Antimicrobial resistance has been found in all regions of the world. Modern travel of people, animals, and goods means antimicrobial resistance can easily spread across borders and continents.
Fighting this threat is a public health priority. It requires a collaborative global approach across sectors to detect, prevent, and respond to these threats when they occur.