Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase Infection
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) are enzymes made by bacteria. ESBL infections make it hard for some medicines to work. This can lead to serious health problems. Sometimes it can be fatal.
Certain bacteria cause the infections. Some people carry them without being sick. but can spread it to others. In the U.S., they are spread by touching people. In other countries they may spread through food or water that has them.
This problem is more common in Asia and Northern Africa. Travel to these areas raises the risk. However, it can happen anywhere. It is also more common in older people.
Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms depend on the where the ESBL infection is. They may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. Tests will be done to check for bacteria. They may be:
Only certain antibiotics can treat ESBL infections.
Health care staff can lower the risk of infection by:
Others can lower their risk by:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Alberta Health Services
Public Health Agency of Canada
Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance. Accessed February 5, 2021.
ESBL-producing enterobacteriaceae in healthcare settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/ESBL.html. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/extended-spectrum-beta-lactamases-esbls. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Lee JH. Perspectives towards antibiotic resistance: from molecules to population. J Microbiol. 2019;57(3):181-184.
Last reviewed September 2020 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 2/5/2021