Reflection paper on the use of third and fourth generation cephalosporins in food producing animals in the European Union: development of resistance and impact on human and animal health


  •   Scientific Advisory Group on Antimicrobials of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use

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      Members of the Scientific Advisory Group: C. Greko (Rapporteur), J. I. Badiola, B. Catry, E. van Duijkeren, M. A. Moreno, M. C. Matias Ferreira Pomba, S. Pyörälä, M. Ružauskas, P. Sanders, E. J. Threlfall, F. Ungemach, K.Törneke (Chairman) and J. Torren-Edo (EMEA secretariat). Acknowledgment to former SAGAM members; A. Caprioli, D. Mevius, J. Wallman

  • The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the opinion or the position of the European Medicines Agency.

Christina Greko, Statens Veterinärmedicinska Anstalt, 751 89 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:


Resistance to third and fourth generation cephalosporins is rapidly increasing in bacteria infecting humans. Although many of these problems are linked to human to human transmission and to use of antimicrobials in human medicine, the potential role of community reservoirs such as food producing animals needs to be scrutinized. Resistance to third and fourth generation cephalosporins is emerging in enteric bacteria of food producing animals and also in food of animal origin. The genes encoding resistance to these cephalosporins are transferrable and often linked to other resistance genes. Systemic use of third and fourth cephalosporins selects for resistance, but co-selection by other antimicrobials is also likely to influence prevalence of resistance. Although there are many uncertainties, the potential consequences of a further increase of resistance to this critically important class of antimicrobials in bacteria colonising animals are serious. Measures to counter a further increase and spread of resistance among animals should therefore be considered.