Via The Globe and Mail: B.C. microbiologist calls for better superbug alert system. Excerpt:
Canadian hospitals need better warning systems when it comes to CPE, a potentially lethal superbug that has established a foothold in British Columbia, says a medical microbiologist who helped launch a provincial surveillance program for the bacteria.
“One of the main challenges for the hospitals in B.C., as well as [elsewhere in] Canada and the rest of the world, is to maintain infection control and CPE alerts,” Dr. Linda Hoang, a medical microbiologist with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), said in a recent presentation.
“And also clear communication between facilities – so if one hospital is going to send a patient to another facility, there needs to be very close communication and alerts to warn the other hospital that a CPE case is on its way.”
Dr. Hoang’s recommendations – made in a BCCDC presentation on Jan. 28 and subsequently posted online – echo those of other infection-control experts who have called for improved communication and even a national registry to monitor cases of CPE, or carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae.
CPE are bacteria that have developed a resistance to carbapenems, powerful antibiotics often referred to as the “drugs of last resort.” Healthy people can carry CPE without showing any symptoms. But the bacteria can cause problems when they travel into parts of the body where they do not belong, such as the urinary tract or bloodstream, and cause an infection. CPE infections can be fatal for up to 50 per cent of people who acquire them.
CPE are an emerging global threat and a pressing reality in B.C., where a cluster of cases emerged in 2013 and where an outbreak was declared earlier this week. Fraser Health Authority, one of five regional health authorities in the province, cited “sustained transmission” of the bacteria on a unit at Royal Columbian Hospital, whose shared patient rooms make it more difficult to prevent transmission. Fraser Health said it had taken steps to control the outbreak, including separating patients who have been “colonized” with the bacteria and additional cleaning.