ESBLs & ESBL Infection

ESBL-Producing Bacteria

ESBL is the shortened version of Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase. It is enzymes which have built up a form of resistance to commonly used antibiotics, such as penicillin. ESBL enzymes are produced by two different forms of bacteria: E. coli (Escherichia coli) plus Klebsiella pneumoniae. The term ESBLs is used to refer to the types of bacteria that create ESBL enzyme.

Infections caused by bacteria that manufacture ESBL are commonly known as ESBL infections. It tends to be undamaging in fit and healthy individuals, but it can make those who are susceptible to infections, such as individuals with compromised immune systems, very poorly.

ESBL infections can be spread between different people as a result of poor hygiene.

E. coli is present in the gastrointestinal tract and has a commensal relationship with the body. This means that the bacteria benefit from the environment without being harmed. However, it can lead to infections and diseases inside and outside the gastrointestinal tract.

What are ESBLs?

It is bacteria that produce enzymes which are able to resist extended-spectrum (third generation) cephalosporins, including cefotaxime, ceftriaxone, ceftazidime and monobactams including aztreonam. They do not impact cephamycins, such as cefotetan and cefotaxime, or carbapenems, such as imipenem or meropenem.

Why is EBSL detection important?

ESBL detection is important because the presence of EBSLs in a patient with an infection may prevent treatment from working. This is the case when the types of drug listed above are used. It can be problematic to notice EBSLs because the activity levels of the bacteria vary according to different types of cephalosporin, which means that choosing the right microbial agent to test is highly important.

Preventing ESBL infection

There are various ways of reducing the impact and prevalence of EBSL infections. These include better hygiene and cleaning in hospitals and care settings, improved infection control protocol and the appropriate use of antibiotics.

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