Objectives: To study the acquisition of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) among the faecal flora during travel, with a focus on risk factors, antibiotic susceptibility and ESBL-encoding genes.
Methods: An observational prospective multicentre cohort study of individuals attending vaccination clinics in south-east Sweden was performed, in which the submission of faecal samples and questionnaires before and after travelling outside Scandinavia was requested. Faecal samples were screened for ESBL-PE by culturing on ChromID ESBL and an in-house method. ESBL-PE was confirmed by phenotypic and genotypic methods. Susceptibility testing was performed with the Etest. Individuals who acquired ESBL-PE during travel (travel-associated carriers) were compared with non-carriers regarding risk factors, and unadjusted and adjusted ORs after manual stepwise elimination were calculated using logistic regression.
Results: Of 262 enrolled individuals, 2.4% were colonized before travel. Among 226 evaluable participants, ESBL-PE was detected in the post-travel samples from 68 (30%) travellers. The most important risk factor in the final model was the geographic area visited: Indian subcontinent (OR 24.8, P < 0.001), Asia (OR 8.63, P < 0.001) and Africa north of the equator (OR 4.94, P = 0.002). Age and gastrointestinal symptoms also affected the risk significantly. Multiresistance was seen in 77 (66%) of the ESBL-PE isolates, predominantly a combination of reduced susceptibility to third-generation cephalosporins, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and aminoglycosides. The most common species and ESBL-encoding gene were Escherichia coli (90%) and CTX-M (73%), respectively.
Conclusion: Acquisition of multiresistant ESBL-PE among the faecal flora during international travel is common. The geographical area visited has the highest impact on ESBL-PE acquisition.
Keywords: CTX-M; antibiotic resistance; travel medicine.