Air exposure as a possible route for ESBL in pig farmers☆

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Livestock can carry extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae, with blaCTX-M-1 being most prevalent. ESBL carriage in farmers is associated with ESBL carriage in animals, with direct animal-human contact considered as the dominant route of transmission. However, inhalation of stable air might represent another route of transmission. We, therefore, quantified presence of blaCTX-M group 1 genes (CTX-M-gr1) in dust and the association with CTX-M-gr1 carriage in pig farmers, family members and employees. We included 131 people living and/or working on 32 conventional Dutch pig production farms (farmers, family members and employees) during two sampling moments over a 12-month interval. Human stool samples, rectal swabs from 60 pigs per farm, and 2–5 dust samples collected using an electrostatic dust collector (EDC) (as a proxy for presence of viable CTX-M-gr1 carrying bacteria in air) were obtained per farm. Presence of ESBL-producing Escherichia Coli (E. coli) in stool samples and rectal swabs was determined by selective plating and CTX-M-gr1 was identified by PCR. Dust samples were analyzed directly by PCR for presence of CTX-M-gr1. Questionnaires were used to collect information on nature, intensity and duration of animal contact. Overall human prevalence of CTX-M-gr1 carriage was 3.6%. CTX-M-gr1 was detected in dust on 26% of the farms and in pigs on 35% of the farms, on at least one sampling moment. Human CTX-M-gr1 carriage and presence of CTX-M-gr1 in dust were associated univariately (OR=12.4, 95% CI=2.7–57.1). In multivariate analysis human CTX-M-gr1 carriage was associated with the number of working hours per week (OR=1.03, 95% CI=1.00–1.06), presence of CTX-M-gr1 carrying pigs on the farm (OR=7.4, 95% CI=1.1–49.7) and presence of CTX-M-gr1 in dust (OR=3.5, 95% CI=0.6–20.9). These results leave open the possibility of airborne CTX-M-gr1 transmission from animals to humans next to direct contact.

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