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OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to characterize ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae present in 24 neonatal units (NNUs) in eight networks participating in a multicentre probiotic study and to test the hypothesis that specific strains would cluster within individual units and networks. METHODS: We performed analysis of stool samples for the presence of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae at 2 weeks post-natal age and 36 weeks post-menstrual age. ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae were characterized and typed using molecular methods. RESULTS: ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (n = 71) were isolated from 67/1229 (5.5%) infants from whom we received a sample at either sampling time or both sampling times, and from infants in 18 (75%) of the 24 recruiting NNUs. Thirty-three Escherichia coli, 23 Klebsiella spp. and 6 Enterobacter spp. strains were characterized. ESBL-producing E. coli were all distinguishable within individual NNUs by antibiotic resistance genotype, serogroup (O25b), phenotype, phylotype or ST. Ten of the 33 were ST131 and 9 of the 10 ST131 isolates were ciprofloxacin resistant. Seven of the 10 ST131 isolates carried genes encoding CTX-M group 1 enzymes. ST131 isolates were isolated from centres within five of the eight NNU networks. There were clusters of indistinguishable ESBL-producing Klebsiella and Enterobacter isolates associated with specific NNUs. CONCLUSIONS: Strains of E. coli ST131 were distributed across neonatal networks in the south of England. There was no evidence of clustering of clonally related ESBL-producing E. coli strains, by contrast with Klebsiella spp. and Enterobacter spp., which did cluster within units. The possibility that ESBL-producing E. coli strains are spread by vertical transmission requires further investigation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Antimicrob Chemother

Publication Date





1174 - 1177


Cluster Analysis, England, Enterobacteriaceae, Enterobacteriaceae Infections, Feces, Genetic Variation, Genotype, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Molecular Epidemiology, Molecular Typing, beta-Lactamases