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Number of antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe increasing

15 November 2013

Infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics occur in European hospitals more often than is thought. These are the findings of a major study led by the Department of Medical Microbiology of University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The study was conducted in 38 countries in Europe and was commissioned by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Sweden. ECDC will be announcing the results during the sixth European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Monday 18 November.

The study shows that an increasing number of hospitals throughout Europe are being confronted with infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics. Most of these bacteria belong to the group of gut bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia and severe bloodstream infections.

Between 2009 and 2012, in five – mainly southern European – countries, the number of bloodstream infections caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria and resistant to carbapenem antibiotics grew to more than 5%. Another new cause for concern is the occurrence and spread of the Acinetobacter bacteria, which causes infections in intensive care wards. Eight of the 18 countries that participated in the study saw an increase of over 25% in the incidence of this bacteria.

UMCG research leader Hajo Grundmann: ‘The resistance to carbapenem antibiotics is a major threat for the healthcare sector, because these antibiotics are considered the last treatment option for infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to the usual antibiotics. This is why it is so important that the countries in Europe draw up national guidelines for infection prevention to ensure these bacteria do not spread. At the same time, hospitals need to pay a lot more attention to limiting the use of antibiotics and improving how they are used.’

You can find more information on the study on the ECDC website .

Note for the press

Please contact the UMCG Press Office for more information, tel. (050) 361 22 00

Last modified:13 March 2020 02.17 a.m.
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