OBJECTIVES: Patients can acquire extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae during hospitalisation and colonised patients may transmit these bacteria after discharge, most likely to household contacts. In this study, ESBL transmission was quantified in households. METHODS: Fecal samples were longitudinally collected from hospitalised patients colonised with ESBL-producing bacteria and from their household members during hospitalisation of the index patient and at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months. A mathematical household model was developed which allowed for person-to-person transmission, acquisition from other sources (background transmission), and losing carriage. Next, a deterministic population model with a household structure was created, informed by parameter values found in the household model. RESULTS: 74 index patients and 84 household members were included. In more than half of the household members ESBL-producing bacteria were demonstrated at some time during follow up. Person-to-person transmission occurred at a rate of 0.0053/colonised person/day (0.0025-0.011), background transmission at 0.00015/day (95% CI 0.00002-0.00039), and decolonization at 0.0026/day (0.0016-0.0040) for index patients and 0.0090/day (0.0046-0.018) for household members. The estimated probability of transmission from an index patient to a household contact was 67% and 37% vice versa. CONCLUSION: There is frequent transmission of ESBL-producing bacteria in households, which may contribute to the observed endemicity of ESBL carriage in the Netherlands. However, the population model suggests that there is not a single dominant acquisition route in the community
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