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Facts about ESBLs

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WHAT IS AN ESBL? ESBL stands for Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase. An ESBL is an enzyme that “chews up” certain antibiotics. This enzyme is a “part” of certain bacteria.

WHAT DOES AN ESBL DO? This enzyme makes antibiotics used to treat certain infections unable to work. This is called resistance. In fact, ESBLs may “show up” as a result of using certain antibiotics.

WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL IF THERE IS RESISTANCE TO ANTIBIOTICS? Resistance means that antibiotics normally used to treat ESBL bacterial infections cannot be used. Eventually, the bacteria may be come resistant to all antibiotics making it difficult to treat the infection.

AREN’T THESE ORGANISMS EVERYWHERE? The actual bacteria can be found anywhere and in any person but not all have ESBLs. We did not find ESBLs outside the hospital, but frequently see more now occurring from people in the community. A person who has not been in a hospital can still have these bacteria.

DO ESBLs MAKE YOU SICKER? Healthy people can have this germ, but it is not more likely to cause illness. Healthy people, including children, are at a lower risk of getting infected with ESBLs. While ESBLs may not cause healthy people to routinely become ill, it can cause infection in anyone, but especially in people with weakened immune systems or IVs or other things such as central lines. ESBLs do not make you sicker and are treatable, but it does make it harder to find the right antibiotic to treat the infection.

HOW DO WE PREVENT THE SPREAD OF ESBLs? Patients at CHKD will be placed on Contact Precautions (isolation). Contact Precautions means wearing gloves and gowns when in the room with the patient. The bacteria that have the ESBLs are frequently found in the stool and, also, can be on our skin and hands as well as on things in the environment. The purpose of isolation is to keep ESBLs from being taken to other patients. Gowns keep our clothes and arms from getting ESBLs on them. Gloves keep us from getting a lot of germs on our hands. Toys and other equipment should not be routinely shared. Items that must be shared must be disinfected before being taken out of the hospital room.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF ESBLs? The most important thing to do, while in the hospital, is to perform hand hygiene and include other areas of the skin that may have germs on them (such as your arms). Hand hygiene using soap and water to remove ESBLs or alcohol based hand rubs to kill the ESBLs is the best prevention against spreading ESBLs and other germs. All people MUST perform hand hygiene before they leave the patient’s room. Alcohol based hand rubs should be used for most hand “washing”in any healthcare setting. Soap and water should be used after using the bathroom, when there is physical soil or after eating or drinking.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE AT HOME? People at home need to use good hygiene, as they would normally. Hand washing is an important part of staying healthy and will prevent others from “getting” ESBLs. Since healthy people are at low risk of getting infected with ESBLs, people with ESBLs should continue on with their usual activities, such as school, work, camp, day care, or friends’ houses without worry. Also, when you go to the doctor’s office, tell any nurses and doctors who treat you that you have an ESBL (or resistant bacteria). At home, hand hygiene with soap and water is the best option for removing germs. Using alcohol based hand rubs and antibacterial soaps all the time outside the healthcare setting is not needed or recommended.

WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS TO COME BACK TO CHKD? As long as your child has an ESBL, we will use Contact Precautions when they are at CHKD as a patient. This will help other patients from getting infected with ESBLs.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

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