Introduction and Objectives: The objective of this study was to conduct a review from the literature of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, the spread of bacteria, their mutations, and policy strategies for the prevention and control of bacterial infections in Europe.
Materials and methods: A bibliographic survey was conducted for 2001 to 2016 on the Medline, Lilacs, Scielo, and Google Scholar databases; WHO reports-World Health Organization, ECDC - European Center for Disease Prevention and Control; SNS-National Health Service-Portuguese Republic and basic technical literature books. Searches were conducted in the Portuguese and English language.
Results: Resistance to antibiotics has been a worldwide public health problem. The European continent has suffered from the spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria. The literature indicates that antimicrobial resistance has increased significantly and that several factors are responsible for this increased resistance, such as the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in both animal food production and human health care, and that the agents of greatest epidemiological significance in Europe are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Enterobacteriaceae producing ESBLs, Acinetobacter spp and Pseudomonas spp.
Conclusion: Proper and rational use of antibiotics is of the utmost importance at present to avoid an epidemic of bacterial infections. Controlling the spread of resistant bacteria depends not only on correct therapeutic use, but also on basic measures of extreme importance.