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Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase


What is Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase?

Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) is an enzyme made by some bacteria. The enzyme prevents certain antibiotics from being able to kill the bacteria. The bacteria then become resistant to the antibiotics. This means stronger antibiotics must be used to kill the bacteria. ESBL infections usually occur in the urinary tract, lungs, skin, blood, or abdomen.

How is ESBL spread?

  • Touch: ESBL can live on items such as medical equipment and bathrooms. Bacteria that produce ESBL can be spread to surfaces that are touched by someone who has contact with the bacteria.
  • Droplet: You can breathe in the bacteria when a person with an ESBL infection coughs or sneezes nearby.

What increases my risk of infection with ESBL?

Bacteria that produce ESBL live in your bowel and other parts of your body. When your immune system is weak, the risk for ESBL infection increases. The following may weaken your immune system and increase your infection risk:

  • Long-term medical treatment: You have been in the hospital for a long time or live in a long-term care facility.
  • Antibiotic use: You have received recent or long-term antibiotic treatment.
  • Tubes or lines in your body: An IV, urinary catheter, or breathing tube can become contaminated and cause infection.
  • Injuries: This includes surgical wounds or severe burns. Open wounds increase your risk for infection.
  • Chronic disease: You have a long-term medical condition, such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis.
  • Older age: As you age, your immune system may weaken.

How is ESBL diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health conditions and the medicines you take. Tell him about any recent hospital stays or surgeries. Healthcare providers will take samples of your blood, urine, bowel movement, or wounds. These samples are tested for infection. Other people who have been in contact with you may also be tested for ESBL.

How is ESBL treated?

Healthcare providers will do tests to find which antibiotics still work against the bacteria that are causing your infection. You will receive antibiotic medicine that will kill the bacteria.

What are the risks of ESBL?

ESBL infections are serious and can be life-threatening. Treatment may require hospital stays and long-term follow-up care. The stronger antibiotic medicines used to treat ESBL can cause side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea. The infection can worsen if there is any delay in treatment.

How can I help prevent the spread of ESBL?

You may be moved to a private room if you are in a healthcare setting. Healthcare providers and visitors may wear gowns and gloves during your care. Everyone must wash their hands before and after they leave your room. You can help prevent the spread of ESBL at home by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands: Use soap and hot water. Carry germ-killing gel with you if you do not have access to soap and water. Wash your hands before you make or eat food, or touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands after you blow your nose, sneeze, cough, or use the bathroom. Wash your hands after you touch tables, doorknobs, remote controls, or phones.
  • Clean surfaces: Clean doorknobs, tables, and toilets often. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of cleaner to use.
  • Use tissues: Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the tissue after you use it.
  • Prevent another infection: Stay at least 3 feet away from people who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Take antibiotics exactly as ordered: Do not stop taking your antibiotic unless directed by your healthcare provider, even if you are feeling better sooner. The infection may return if you do not take all of your antibiotic. Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed.
  • Influenza vaccine helps prevent influenza (flu). Everyone 6 months or older should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as recommended each year, usually in September or October.

Further information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever, even after 3 days of antibiotic treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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