• Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase Infection



    ESBLs are enzymes that are produced by bacteria. The enzymes make the bacteria resistant to many kinds of antibiotics.
    It is possible to carry these bacteria without being sick. This is called being colonized. A person who is colonized can still spread the infection to others. The bacteria that carry the enzymes can cause serious infections, such as those in the:
    • Intestines
    • Urinary tract
    • Respiratory tract
    If not treated, the condition can be fatal.
    The Intestines
    The bacteria can travel to the intestines, causing a serious infection.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    This condition occurs when the body is infected with bacteria. These bacteria produce enzymes that make the infection resistant to many kinds of antibiotics. That is why it is so hard to treat.
    These bacteria can be easily spread in close living areas, like hospitals. They are most often spread by:
    • Medical equipment
    • The hands of healthcare workers

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of being colonized by or infected with ESBL include:
    • Admission to an intensive care unit (ICU)
    • Recent surgery
    • A long hospital stay
    • Use of invasive medical devices, such as a urinary catheter
    • Antibiotic use
    • Nursing home residence
    • Recurrent urinary tract infections
    • Use of a feeding tube
    • Hemodialysis
    • Diabetes
    • Poor nutrition


    Symptoms depend on the location of the infection and may include:
    • Fever
    • Pain in abdomen
    • Pain and burning with urination
    • Signs of infection around a wound, such as redness or oozing discharge
    • Diarrhea
    • Loss of appetite
    • Chills
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Trouble breathing


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
    • Urine, stool, or blood tests
    • Swab of the rectum or throat
    The bacteria in the samples are then tested to see if it they are resistant to certain antibiotics.


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. There are only a few antibiotics that can be used to treat this infection.
    It is also important to take steps to control the spread of ESBL infections, such as:
    • Preventing the spread of ESBL-producing bacteria to others by isolation, hand washing , and other steps
    • Avoiding unnecessary procedures or unnecessary use of antibiotics


    To help reduce your chance of an ESBL infection:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly, and ask others to wash their hands.
    • Avoid coming into contact with people who have this infection.
    • Make sure healthcare staff and visitors wash their hands before and after touching you or touching contaminated surfaces.
    • Make sure healthcare staff and visitors use gloves.


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca


    Dhillon RH, Clark J. ESBLs: a clear and present danger? Crit Care Res Pract. 2012;2012:1-11.

    Doi Y, Adams J, O'Keefe Alexandra, Quereshi Z, Ewan L, Paterson DS. Community-acquired extended spectrum beta-lactamase producers, United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 2007;13(7): 1121-1123.

    Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs): Guidance, data, analysis. Public Health England website. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/extended-spectrum-beta-lactamases-esbls-guidance-data-analysis. Published July 1, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2015.

    Paterson DL, Bonomo RA. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases: a clinical update. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2005;18(4):657–686.

    Seigel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M. Management of multidrug-resistant organisms in healthcare settings, 2006. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/guidelines/MDROGuideline2006.pdf. Updated December 29, 2009. Accessed June 11, 2015.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.