ESBL Bacteria

What Is ESBL Bacteria?

Extended spectrum beta-lactamases, or ESBLs, are a kind of enzyme that some bacteria make. What sets ESBL infections apart from others is that they are typically resistant to antibiotics, making them harder to treat without a specific, stronger antibiotic. These infections are most commonly found in the lungs, blood, skin, abdomen and urinary tract.

One type of bacteria that can create this type of enzyme is Escherichia coli, which you know as E. coli. It’s typically responsible for food poisoning since it lives in the gut. Another type of bacteria that makes ESBLs is Klebsiella, which lives in the gut, mouth or nose. When these bacteria get into a part of the body they’re not usually in, they can make you sick. An ESBL infection can be serious because it takes extra time to treat, as typical antibiotics like penicillin don’t usually work.

How to Treat It

If you think you have an ESBL infection, make an appointment with one of our doctors, who will consider your symptoms. Note that while your symptoms will depend on where the infection is, the conditions most commonly associated with ESBL infections include diarrhea, pneumonia, skin issues or urinary tract infections (UTI). Once the doctor observes your symptoms, he or she will determine which antibiotic to put you on. Some of the most common antibiotics for ESBL infections are carbapenems and fosfomycin.

The Recovery Period

Once our doctor finds the antibiotic that will treat the ESBL infection, recovery should take anywhere from a few days to about a week. But in some cases, it can take weeks or even months for the right antibiotic to be identified and successfully fight the infection. Staying in contact with the doctor as you recover is important to make sure the infection is completely gone by the time you finish your course of antibiotics.

How to Prevent It

You can prevent an ESBL infection much like you can most other infections, which means you can start by keeping your hands clean. This type of bacteria not only transfers through touch but also through the droplets that go through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. So, if you know someone is sick, avoid contact for now. Note that ESBL bacteria is often found in hospitals, so be especially cautious in that environment.

If you suspect you have an ESBL infection–or any other type of infection–schedule an appointment with us today to get the medical help you deserve.