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Rodríguez-Molina, Daloha; Berglund, Fanny; Blaak, Hetty; Flach, Carl-Fredrik; Kemper, Merel; Marutescu, Luminita; Pîrcălăbioru Grădișteanu, Grațiela; Popa, Marcela; Spießberger, Beate; Weinmann, Tobias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4582-5191; Wengenroth, Laura ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4730-1612; Chifiriuc, Mariana Carmen; Larsson, D. G. Joakim; Nowak, Dennis ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7871-8686; Radon, Katja ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5271-3972; De Roda Husman, Ana Maria; Wieser, Andreas and Schmitt, Heike (2021): Carriage of ESBL-producing Enterobacterales in wastewater treatment plant workers and surrounding residents - the AWARE Study. In: European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology [PDF, 2MB]


To investigate whether wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) workers and residents living in close proximity to a WWTP have elevated carriage rates of ESBL-producing Enterobacterales, as compared to the general population. From 2018 to 2020, we carried out a cross-sectional study in Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania among WWTP workers (N = 344), nearby residents (living ≤ 300~m away from WWTPs; N = 431) and distant residents (living ≥ 1000~m away = reference group; N = 1165). We collected information on potential confounders via questionnaire. Culture of participants' stool samples was performed with ChromID®-ESBL agar plates and species identification with MALDI-TOF-MS. We used logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for carrying ESBL-producing E. coli (ESBL-EC). Sensitivity analyses included stratification by country and interaction models using country as secondary exposure. Prevalence of ESBL-EC was 11% (workers), 29% (nearby residents), and 7% (distant residents), and higher in Romania (28%) than in Germany (7%) and the Netherlands (6%). Models stratified by country showed that within the Romanian population, WWTP workers are about twice as likely (aOR = 2.34, 95% CI: 1.22-4.50) and nearby residents about three times as likely (aOR = 3.17, 95% CI: 1.80-5.59) to be ESBL-EC carriers, when compared with distant residents. In stratified analyses by country, we found an increased risk for carriage of ESBL-EC in Romanian workers and nearby residents. This effect was higher for nearby residents than for workers, which suggests that, for nearby residents, factors other than the local WWTP could contribute to the increased carriage.

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