Objective: The aim of the present study was to prospectively evaluate the prevalence of intestinal carriage by extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae among Portuguese students attending a Bachelors’ course in healthcare, and to determine the molecular features of ESBL-producing isolates. Methods: One-hundred and eleven faecal samples recovered from Portuguese healthcare students were screened for either ESBL-producing, carbapenem-resistant, colistin-resistant or pan-aminoglycoside-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, using respective screening media. All recovered isolates were tested for antimicrobial susceptibility and characterised by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Results: A total of 17 ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (16 Escherichia coli and a single Klebsiella pneumoniae) were recovered from 16 students, representing a prevalence of 14.5%. The E. coli isolates were distributed into three sequence types (STs) and seven PFGE types. The most common ESBL identified was CTX-M-1 (n = 13; 76%), followed by CTX-M-15 (n = 3; 18%) and CTX-M-8 (n = 1; 6%). The majority of the strains were resistant to sulfonamides (88%) and fosfomycin (71%). Resistance to aminoglycosides was observed at a low rate, that is 12% for both tobramycin and kanamycin. No colistin-, carbapenem- or pan-aminoglycoside-resistant isolates were recovered. A major clone, ST10-blaCTX-M-1, included 12 E. coli isolates. The blaCTX-M-1 gene was always located on an IncFIA/FIB plasmid type, co-harbouring genes encoding resistance to tetracycline, sulfonamides, trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole and fosfomycin. Conclusion: The most commonly identified ESBL gene in E. coli was blaCTX-M-1, usually identified among ESBL-producing isolates recovered from animals. A high prevalence of faecal carriage of ESBL-producing E. coli was found among healthy healthcare students, underlying this population as an important reservoir.
- Healtcare workers