The annual report 2007 of the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS) draws a dire picture of the latest developments in antibiotic resistance in Europe. A disturbing development is the Europe-wide increase of resistance of Escherichia coli to antibiotics commonly used for treatment.

The report was published today on www.rivm.nl/earss.

In 2007, participating hospitals reported for the first time that most of E. coli had lost their original susceptibility to antibiotics commonly used for treatment and that these resistant bacteria have largely replaced the original wild-type strains. Escherichia coli is a bacterium in the human gut which can cause various infections in hospitals as well as in the community, ranging from ordinary urinary tract infection to severe blood stream infections.

MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
For methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is regarded as a marker for hospital cleanliness, the resistance rates in eight of 31 countries have lately improved showing that large scale interventions and the enforcement of national guidelines can make a difference and turn the tide.

Since nine years the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS) has been collecting data from over 1300 hospitals in 31 countries in the European region, measuring the antibiotic resistance of important bacteria that cause infections in European citizens.

The report of these latest trends sends a stark warning that dwindling antibiotic effectiveness threatens many achievements of modern medicine and underlines the importance the European Antibiotic Awareness Day which is coming up on next Tuesday, November the 18th.