20 years of resistance monitoring – where are we now?

November 22/2022

The antibiotic resistance of bacteria isolated from animals and foodstuffs and the use of antibiotics in animals have been monitored in Finland for 20 years. The latest FINRES-Vet report covers the data for 2021. The results are also compared with previous years to detect longer-term changes. In addition to results concerning antibiotic resistance, the report also contains data on the use of antibiotics in animals.

Small or moderate amounts of antibiotic resistance can be observed in bacteria isolated from animals in Finland. For example, the Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria that may infect humans are clearly less resistant in Finland than in most European countries. Similarly, the prevalence of E. coli bacteria producing extended-spectrum beta-lactamases has been relatively low in Finnish production animals and meat derived from them in recent years, or they have not been detected at all. However, the methicillin-resistant S. aureus bacterium (MRSA) is common in pigs and also in pork. However, pork is not considered to pose a significant risk to consumers. On the other hand, they must protect themselves from MRSA when working with pigs. There are varying levels of resistance in bacteria that cause disease in animals, but some bacterial species can be monitored so little that it is not possible to assess the situation at the national level. Knowledge of the resistance situation in pathogenic bacteria supports the preparation of antimicrobial drug recommendations and other guidelines.

The use of antibiotics in animals in Finland has been very moderate compared to the European level. This has contributed to our generally good resistance situation. Although animal antibiotics sales increased by 5% in 2021, their consumption was the second lowest in the entire monitoring history. The majority of antibiotics used in production animals are medicinal products intended for individual animals, and only one third of antibiotics is administered in feed or drinking water.

The good resistance situation in Finland is not a coincidence. Instead, it is the result of long-term monitoring and multidisciplinary resistance work. Based on the monitoring data, it is possible to focus guidance and disease prevention measures efficiently. Maintaining the efficacy of antibiotics in the treatment of both animals’ and humans’ infectious diseases is of paramount importance and continues to require multidisciplinary cooperation and research.

The regular FINRES-Vet programme was launched in 2002, and it has been steadily expanding during the last two decades. It currently includes information on zoonoses, indicators and antibiotic resistance of bacteria causing veterinary diseases, as well as monitoring of the presence of ESBL and MRSA bacteria. The Finnish Food Authority is responsible for leading the programme. The FINRES-Vet report compiles annual antibiotic susceptibility data for bacteria isolated from animals and foodstuffs and data on the use of antibiotics in animals. The data on the use of antibiotics is produced by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. The resistance data for companion and hobby animals are collected at the clinical microbiology laboratory of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Link to the report

Read more about ESBL bacteria on the Finnish Food Authority's Frequently asked questions about ESBL page

Read more about MRSA bacteria on the Finnish Food Authority's Frequently asked questions about MRSA page

Read more about the monitoring of antibiotic resistance in animals and foodstuffs on the Zoonosis Centre’s and the Finnish Food Authority's website

Read more about the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in humans on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Read more about consumption of veterinary antimicrobials on the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea’s website


More information about the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance:

Suvi Nykäsenoja, Senior Researcher, the Finnish Food Authority
+358 40 489 3447, firstname.lastname@ruokavirasto.fi

More information about consumption of veterinary antimicrobials:

Katariina Kivilahti-Mäntylä, Veterinarian, The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea
+358 29 522 3354, firstname.lastname@fimea.fi