Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL)

This information describes extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), including how it is spread and how infections are treated.

What is extended spectrum beta-lactamase?

Some germs, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Klebsiella, produce an enzyme called extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL). This enzyme makes the germ more resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

ESBL can cause a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood infections
  • Wound infections
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What is the difference between being colonized and being infected with EBSL?

A person can be either colonized or infected with ESBL. If a person is colonized, it means that the germ is present on their skin or in a body opening, but they have no signs of illness. If a person is infected, it means that the germ is present on their skin or in a body opening and it is causing illness.

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How is ESBL spread?

Most ESBL infections are spread by direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (blood, drainage from a wound, urine, stool, or sputum). They can also be spread by contact with equipment or surfaces that have been contaminated with the germ. Casual contact, such as touching or hugging, does not spread ESBL.

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Who is at risk for an ESBL infection?

Healthy people are not at high risk for getting ESBL infections. ESBL infections occur more often in people who:

  • Are older
  • Have weakened immune systems
  • Have chronic illnesses
  • Have been treated with antibiotics in the past
  • Had a recent surgery
  • Have had repeated or prolonged hospitalizations
  • Have open wounds or sores
  • Have tubes or drains inserted in the body
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What are the symptoms of an ESBL infection?

The symptoms vary depending on the location and type of infection.

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How is an ESBL infection treated?

ESBL infections are treated with antibiotics that are not resistant to the germ.

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What isolation precautions are taken in the hospital if I have an ESBL infection?

  • If you have been diagnosed with an ESBL infection, you will be placed in a private room.
  • A sign will be posted on the door instructing all staff and visitors to take precautions.
  • All staff and visitors must clean their hands before going into and after leaving your room. They can use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • All staff and visitors who enter your room must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • If you leave your room for tests, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves or be covered with a clean sheet.
  • If you leave your room to walk around the unit, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • You will not be able to go to the following areas of the hospital:
    • Pantry on your unit
    • Recreation center on M15
    • Pediatric recreation areas on M9
    • Cafeteria
    • Main lobby
    • Any other public area of the hospital
  • While following these isolation precautions, you can have art or massage therapy in your room.
  • These precautions will be discontinued after you have received treatment and no longer have symptoms.
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What precautions should I take at home if I have an ESBL infection?

Healthy people are not at high risk for getting ESBL infections. However, be sure to do the following at home:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Wash your hands after having contact with blood, urine, or drainage from a wound.
  • Use a disinfectant such as Clorox® or Lysol® to wipe any surface that may have been contaminated with the germ.
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Where can I get more information about ESBL?

If you have any questions, speak with your doctor or nurse. You can also visit the following website for more information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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