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EFFORT Report Summary

Project ID: 613754
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EFFORT (Ecology from Farm to Fork Of microbial drug Resistance and Transmission)

Project Context and Objectives:
I. Project context and objectives:
The EFFORT project studies the complex epidemiology and ecology of antimicrobial resistance and the interactions between bacterial communities of commensals and pathogens in animals, the food chain and the environment.

This is conducted by a combination of epidemiological and ecological studies using newly developed molecular and bio-informatic technologies. EFFORT includes an exposure assessment of humans from animal and environmental sources. The ecological studies on isolates are verified by in vitro and in vivo studies. Moreover, real-life intervention studies are conducted with the aim to reduce the use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice. Focus is to understand the eco-epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance from animal origin and based on this, to predict and limit the future evolution of AMR and exposure to humans of the most clinically important resistance determinants by the inclusion of different sources of information in our prediction models.

Through its results, EFFORT provides scientific evidence and high quality data that will inform decision makers, the scientific community and other stakeholders about the consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the food chain, in relation to animal health and welfare, food safety and economic aspects. These results can be used to support political decisions and to prioritise risk management options along the food chain

A. Main objectives:
Main objectives and important innovative aspects of EFFORT are:
- The characterization of the resistome of production animals as determined by metagenomics and assessing the added value of genomic analysis of isolates and metagenomic analysis of bacterial communities in comparison with the conventional used methods for EU based surveillance of antimicrobial resistance using indicator organisms.
- The comprehensive and multinational/multispecies datasets that will be collected and built will allow determination of the complex associations between risk factors including antimicrobial usage, and the occurrence of resistance (resistome and conventional data).
- An estimation of the relative contribution of different sources and various transmission routes on antimicrobial resistance in humans in the general population as well as in selected occupational risk groups. This will also allow for an estimation of the effect of reduced antimicrobial use and other specific interventions on human exposure.
- The determination of genetic characteristics involved in the success of high-risk clones and mobile genetic elements in the epidemiology of AMR and the estimation of the relative impact on human infection risks caused by transfer of antimicrobial resistance determinants between commensals and pathogenic organisms.
- The implementation of on-farm interventions (e.g. restricted usage of antimicrobials) in multiple European countries and animal species following a common approach, including an analysis of the economic effects, animal welfare consequences and resistance levels.
- The use of novel statistical analytical approaches for rich meta-genomic data to obtain a “fingerprint” of resistance patterns for different populations (humans, animals) and the environment. Simultaneously these fingerprint patterns will be associated to determinants of antimicrobial resistance of relevance for human and animal health

Project Results:
II. Work performed since the beginning of the project
Through its results, EFFORT provides scientific evidence and high quality data that will inform decision makers, the scientific community and other stakeholders about the consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the food chain, in relation to animal health and welfare, food safety and economic aspects. These results can be used to support political decisions and to prioritise risk management options along the food chain.

Progress is as follows:

A - WP1 “Integrated evidence base for the food chain"
Sampling and data collection in nine countries (in different animal species (pig, poultry, veal calves, turkey, companion animals, fish and wild boars) has been conducted using the EFFORT sampling plan. Questionnaire data are stored in EpiData software. Data quality has extensively been checked. Deadline for a final database is March 2017.

B - WP2 “Molecular approaches for determining the molecular ecology and epidemiology of AMR genes”
During P1, a protocol for DNA extraction from faecal samples for metagenomic analysis has been prepared and distributed to the project partners. Since the quality of the DNA is crucial for the outcome of the study, a DNA extraction proficiency test was designed. This test allows comparing DNA extractions performed by different partners, to ensure that equal quality is obtained from all participating countries. Based on the results it was decided to conduct all DNA purification centrally.
Furthermore, the metagenomic sequencing strategy was identified and a pipeline for analysis of the sequence data has been implemented. This pipeline will enable identification of resistance genes and associated genetic information. Fecal samples from pigs and poultry of nine countries DNA has been extracted and purified and sequenced. Analyses are now ongoing into the abundances and diversity of antimicrobial resistance and other relevant genes.

C - WP3 “Ecology and transfer of resistance mechanisms”
WP3 has compiled knowledge regarding the most widely used food processing regimes, in order to determine the biophysical conditions bacteria encounter throughout the food chain. Food industry personnel were consulted to catalogue and describe the different processes. Furthermore, a literature search was conducted. Based on the collated information and taking into account the relative strength of the studies, WP3 members evaluated available evidence and ranked biophysical parameters considered priority parameters for study. During P2, WP3 has been focussing on a pre-trial broiler chicken infection model with S. Corvallis and S. Paratyphi B (dt+) as donor and recipient strain, respectively. It was foreseen to investigate the effect on time dependency of inoculation in three separate groups (D+R, D/R and R/D) on excretion of donor, recipient strain and transformants. The conducted animal pre-trial gave valuable guidelines for the upcoming main trial regarding sampling strategy and laboratory practice. Furthermore, WP3 has focused on the characterization of resistance plasmids that are found in various animal species and humans, but are especially abundant in poultry. Phylogenetic analysis and experiments targeting phenotypic traits have provided new insights in the dissemination and fitness cost of these plasmids carried by Enterobacteriaceae.

D - WP4 “Epidemiological analysis of antimicrobial resistance patterns in humans and the environment”
For WP4, the main task in period 1 was to streamline field work and data collection. An infrastructure for effective data processing was created. In addition, the literature has been explored for analysis of meta-genomic data using data reduction techniques and analytical pipelines have been set up using multidimensional preference analysis in R software to reduce the dimensionality of gene data. During P2 meta-data for pigs and poultry was compiled and a common database was created. Additionally a database for the data originated from the in depth study was assigned. Extensive evaluation of data consistency and data quality was performed and first preliminary exploratory analysis of the data was carried out.

E - WP5 “Relationship between farming practices, antimicrobial usage, animal health and resistance”
The aim of WP5 is to study the relationship between farming practices (including biosecurity), antimicrobial usage, animal health and antimicrobial resistance. During P1, an exhaustive literature study was performed as preparation for an accurate data description and analysis. Also preliminary data analysis to describe and analyse data on biosecurity in pig production in four European countries was performed to get a feeling of the data and to understand the potential linkages. In P2, quantification of antimicrobial consumption data and the further necessary assumptions were made based on scientific literature. Data verification took place and Treatment Incidences (TI) were calculated based on defined daily and course doses, by using ESVAC published defined daily doses for animals (DDDvet) and defined course doses for animals (DCDvet). Furthermore, based on the verified data, antimicrobial consumption data for pigs and poultry are further explored looking at: 1) Antimicrobial consumption per animal category (pigs) and country for group treatments and purchased products; 2) Antimicrobial consumption per antimicrobial class based on used and purchased active substance (mg/kg animal); 3) The relation between TI based on group treatments on the one hand and purchased antimicrobials on the other hand; 4) The relation between TI for the different animal categories (pigs), both for group treatments and purchased antimicrobials.

F. WP6 “Intervention studies aiming at reducing AM usage and resistance in pig and poultry production”
During P1, the literature has been explored on available knowledge about interventions along the food chain. Additionally an assessment and decision support (ADS) tool for a multi-level intervention on pig and poultry farms has been developed. In the frame of the WP6 study assay, antimicrobial resistance patterns of E coli from control and intervention farms will be monitored to assess time trends along the study. A protocol for sampling, storage and bacterial methods has been developed. During P2 the ADS tool and study protocols have been applied. Farms are recruited (France, the Netherlands – pigs; France, Belgium, Spain – poultry). The Danish partner (Ø-VET) left the consortium. Visits and audits were performed and data were collected and uploaded in a central database. For all intervention farms action plans have been made. Follow up visits are ongoing. Initial sampling for further bacteriological analysis was performed in all farms.

G - WP7 “Quantification of exposure to AMR through different transmission routes from animals to humans”
The work in WP7 relies mainly on data collected in other WPs and was therefore limited during the first project period. However, careful monitoring of data collection methods and tools installed by the sampling partners was performed, to ensure that the data collected is relevant. In parallel, several analyses using data from external sources have been initiated. In P2, a model framework was developed. For each possible transmission route, equations to estimate exposure were defined and required input data were identified. A database was created to collect data from the literature on specific model parameters.

H - WP8 “Economic impact analysis”
During P1, a consortium-wide questionnaire with regard to Animal Welfare issues was delivered, and preparations for data analyses and future collaboration between Stiftung Tierärrzliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo) and Wageningen University (BEC) were made. A slight deviation from the original plan had to be made, since collection of slaughterhouse data was not possible in all countries. A conceptual framework on the economic decision making regarding AM and AMR issues was developed. Moreover, collaboration was initiated with WP6 and resulted in the development of protocols and analysis approaches for the upcoming intervention studies.
During the second period of the project, the animal oriented parameters for the Herd Health and Welfare Index were collected. First calculations based on the pig and poultry German data sets only showed the applicability and usefulness of the Index. Furthermore Bio-economic modelling of broiler and pig (fattening) farms was completed and elaboration of the theoretical foundation for analysis of the Economic Value of AM, as well as Economic Efficiency of the farm (subject to various management routines, amongst (changes in) use of AM took place. This resulted in a 3-stage modelling approach focused on economic analysis which will be applied to various datasets that become available within the Effort project.

I - WP9 “Project dissemination and training”
WP9, responsible for dissemination activities, is taking care of disseminating widely news and outputs which have been produced within the EFFORT project. To ensure consistency and quality of this process, a project dissemination plan has been implemented and is followed for all dissemination actions. A strong online presence can be expected, via the EFFORT public website (, the Twitter account (@effortamr) and a LinkedIn group (EFFORT: Ecology from Farm to Fork of microbial drug resistance and transmission). To inform relevant stakeholders and to obtain feedback on the project’s workplan, a series of online policy round tables have been organised. Members of the EFFORT consortium have also attended scientific conferences and meetings with particularly relevant stakeholders such as the European Medical Agency (EMA). Within P2 an online stakeholder meeting was organized. It was attended by representatives from the European Commission, International Federation of Animal Health (IFAH)-Europe, and EMA. A session dedicated to "Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain" was held, under the EFFORT consortium organization, on Thursday 12th May 13:30-15:00, during the IAFP`s European Symposium on Food Safety (Athens, Greece, 11-13 May, 2016). The purpose of this session was to give an overview of the problem of antimicrobial resistance in the food chain. Additionally a training workshop on AMR surveillance was organized in two different meetings. (Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM) meeting, Elsinore, Denmark, March 2016 and Annual meeting of the European College of Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH), Uppsala, Sweden, October 2016).

Potential Impact:
III.- The expected final results and their potential impact and use

The EFFORT research will provide scientific evidence and high quality data that will inform decision makers, the scientific community and other stakeholders about the consequences of AMR in the food chain, in relation to animal health and welfare, food safety and economic aspects. The project’s research will also contribute to the reduction of the transfer and spread of antimicrobial resistance by using evaluated intervention strategies that are targeting a range of possible intervention points along the food chain.
Specifically, EFFORT will strive to answer the following fundamental, but complex questions demanded by risk managers:
- What is the association between antimicrobial usage in food-producing animals and human exposure to AMR determinants?
- What is the relative contribution of transmission routes and sources of human exposure to AMR determinants?
- How can human exposure to AMR determinants through food-producing animals be reduced?
- What is the most cost-effective way of monitoring antimicrobial resistance occurrence in food-producing animals and in the food chain?

The answers are expected to support political decisions and to prioritise risk management options along the food chain both on the short and long term horizon. In addition, the results can inspire and guide future research initiatives.

List of Websites:

Related information


Jaap Wagenaar, (Head of Division of Clinical Infectiology)
Tel.: +31 30 25 34 376
Record Number: 199673 / Last updated on: 2017-06-21
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