Dissemination of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing bacteria: the food-borne outbreak lesson

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ObjectivesCommensal and opportunistic bacteria producing extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBL-PB) have undergone a broad and rapid spread within the general population; however, the routes of dissemination have not been totally elucidated. The aim of this study was to determine whether individuals involved in an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis, in addition to the enteropathogenic microorganism, share an ESBL-PB as indirect demonstration of its transmission from a common food source.MethodsFrom 2003 to 2004 in Barcelona, Spain, stool samples from 905 people involved in 132 acute gastroenteritis outbreaks and 226 food handlers related to the outbreaks were investigated.ResultsIn 31 outbreaks, 58 diners carrying one or more ESBL-PB were detected. In 10 outbreaks, two or more diners shared the same ESBL-PB, and in four of them, the strain was shared with the food handlers.ConclusionsThis study provides circumstantial evidence that foods can be a transmission vector for ESBL-PB, probably from two reservoirs, food animals and food handlers.

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