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Environ Pollut. 2013 Feb;173:192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.09.019. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Comparison of extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL) carrying Escherichia coli from sewage sludge and human urinary tract infection.

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Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine, Medical University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria.


For many years, extended-spectrum-beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria were a problem mainly located in medical facilities. Within the last decade however, ESBL-producing bacteria have started spreading into the community and the environment. In this study, ESBL-producing Escherichia coli from sewage sludge were collected, analysed and compared to ESBL-E. coli from human urinary tract infections (UTIs). The dominant ESBL-gene-family in both sample groups was bla(CTX-M), which is the most prevalent ESBL-gene-family in human infection. Still, the distribution of ESBL genes and the frequency of additional antibiotic resistances differed in the two sample sets. Nevertheless, phenotyping did not divide isolates of the two sources into separate groups, suggesting similar strains in both sample sets. We speculate that an exchange is taking place between the ESBL E. coli populations in infected humans and sewage sludge, most likely by the entry of ESBL E. coli from UTIs into the sewage system.

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