Antimicrobial Resistance

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Series Details Number 522
Publication Date November 2022
ISBN 978-92-76-55035-8
EC EW-09-22-366-EN-N
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Antibiotic use reached a record low in 2021: 23% of Europeans took antibiotics in oral form in the past year, the lowest since 2009. However, this varies from 42% in Malta to 15% in Sweden and Germany. Around 8% of antibiotics were taken without a prescription.

A very large proportion of Europeans have taken antibiotics without justification (i.e. for viral infections or symptoms only) or for illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis, which need a test to confirm the exact cause, and only half of respondents know that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. People are most likely to take antibiotics for a urinary tract infection (15%), a sore throat (13%), bronchitis (12%), a cold (11%), flu (10%), fever (10%) or COVID-19 (9%).

Further information:

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes change over time and stop responding to medicines designed to kill them. This makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of diseases, severe illnesses, and death.

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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): Antimicrobial resistance
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): Topics: Antimicrobial resistance
European Medicines Agency (EFSA): Antimicrobial resistance
European Commission: Public Health: Antimicrobial resistance
European Commission: Press Release, 17/11/2022: Data on antimicrobial resistance (AMR): use of antibiotics in the EU decreases but more needs to be done

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