ESBL-producing bacteria increasing in both humans and livestock

Monday 01 Nov 10

The prevalence of drug-resistant ESBL-producing bacteria is increasing in both livestock and humans, according to statistics from the 2009 DANMAP report. A large number of samples from imported chicken meat and Danish pork reveal the presence of ESBL-producing E. coli bacteria. There is also an increase in the presence of the bacteria in humans. ESBL-producing bacteria are resistant to the antibiotics that treat what can be a life-threatening infection in humans.

ESBL stands for extended spectrum beta-lactamase, which are enzymes that have developed a resistance to antibiotics such as penicillin. ESBL enzymes are most commonly produced by two bacteria, Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

ESBL-producing bacteria are one of the fastest growing types of bacteria in the world resistant to cephalosporin, a wide-spectrum group of antibiotics used to treat dangerous infections in humans.

The types of ESBL-producing bacteria found among swine and meat products are the same as those being found in humans. Between 2007 and 2009, there was a rise in the incidence of ESBL-producing bacteria in Danish patients, as well as a rise in the use of cephalosporin antibiotics throughout Danish hospitals.

The report also found that bacteria from imported chicken meat are generally more resistant to antibiotics compared to bacteria from Danish chicken.


The source of the statistics is the 2009 DANMAP report, an annual report produced for the past 14 years. The report tracks the use of antibiotics and prevalence of resistant bacteria in animals, food and people. The report is a collaborative effort from DTU Food, DTU Veterinary, the Danish Medicines Industry and Statens Serum Institute.

For more information, please see the home page of DTU Food:

Translation: Shanti Zachariah,