ICELAND – The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (Matvælastofnun) has released a comprehensive report on antibiotic usage in animals and the presence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2022.

While the findings reveal some concerning trends, they also draw attention to some notable variations in resistance patterns among different animals and poultry.

In the poultry sector, 12 Salmonella strains were scrutinized, with one demonstrating resistance to three classes of antibiotics.

Among 85 Escherichia coli strains isolated from chickens, a concerning 20 percent exhibited resistance to one or more antibiotics, and seven of these displayed multidrug resistance (MDR), as reported by Food Safety Magazine.

The study also turned its attention to lamb intestines, where out of 170 streptococci strains examined, 18.2 percent were found to be resistant to antibiotics, and two displayed MDR characteristics.

However, in a reassuring discovery, all 14 Campylobacter strains isolated from poultry samples proved susceptible to antibiotics.

ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli screening

Screening efforts extended to ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli and carbapenemase-producing E. coli, with no positives found in chicken appendix samples.

In contrast, among 170 lamb appendiceal samples, 8.8 percent tested positive for ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli, all of which were AmpC-producing and carried an overexpressed chromosomal gene.

Continuing an annual tradition since 2014, pigs were screened for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), yielding the same reassuring result—no MRSA-positive samples were detected.

Antibiotic sales surge explained

An interesting observation was the nearly one-third increase in antibiotic sales for animals in 2022, attributed primarily to antibiotic administration in farmed char to combat typhoid fever.

When this factor was accounted for, it became evident that antibiotic sales for animals had actually decreased.

Tetracyclines constituted the largest subclass of antibiotics, making up 35 percent of total sales, followed by beta-lactamase-susceptible penicillins, accounting for 34 percent of the total sales.

This comprehensive study underscores the complex landscape of antibiotic usage and resistance in Iceland, emphasizing the need for continued monitoring and targeted interventions to address specific challenges within different animal sectors.

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