Introduction of OXA-48-producing Enterobacteriaceae to Israeli hospitals by medical tourism

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The carbapenemase OXA-48 has been reported from different Mediterranean countries. It is mostly encoded on a single plasmid in various Enterobacteriaceae species. We characterized the epidemiological and molecular features of OXA-48-producing Enterobacteriaceae (OPE) in Israel.


Epidemiological investigation was conducted by the National Center for Infection Control. Genotyping was performed using multilocus sequence typing. The blaOXA-48-carrying plasmids were investigated using S1 endonuclease and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). Conjugation efficiency of the blaOXA-48-carrying plasmids was studied in a filter mating experiment.


Since 2007, four OPE-infected patients were identified, all non-Israeli (two Palestinian, one Jordanian and one Georgian). Three had prior hospitalization; two in Jordan and one in Georgia. The blaOXA-48 gene was detected in three Escherichia coli strains belonging to different clonal complexes, one Klebsiella oxytoca and one Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type 101, as previously reported from Tunisia and Spain. In all isolates, the blaOXA-48 gene was located inside Tn1999.2 and was carried on a 60 kb plasmid with an identical RFLP pattern. The plasmid was able to conjugate from Klebsiella spp. to E. coli, and had a conjugation efficiency up to ∼10 000 times higher than that of pKpQIL.


OPE, introduced mainly by medical tourism, are an emerging threat to patients from affected Mediterranean countries. The blaOXA-48-carrying plasmid demonstrated remarkable conjugation efficiency, which is probably important in the success of its dissemination.

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