Via The Guardian: Almost untreatable superbug CPE poses serious threat to patients, doctors warn. Excerpt:
Doctors are warning that the rise of an almost untreatable superbug, immune to some of the last-line antibiotics available to hospitals, poses a serious threat to patients.
The number of lab-confirmed cases of the bug, called carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), rose from three to nearly 2,000 in the 12 years to 2015, according to Public Health England (PHE). But that may be far short of the real number because hospitals are not compelled to report suspected cases. PHE admits it does not know where the infections are coming from or how many people are dying.
Freedom of information requests made by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveal that at least 81 people infected with CPE have died since 2009 at 66 NHS trusts in England – although the bug may have been a complicating factor rather than the main cause of death in some cases.
But the real figure is almost certain to be much higher. Many trusts did not respond to the requests or were unable to supply complete data. Out of 136 NHS hospital trusts that were asked for the numbers of infections and deaths between 2009 and 2016, 97 responded but nearly half did not have data on CPE or could not extract the details.
In Manchester and London, dealing with CPE has cost NHS trusts almost £10m. There have also been confirmed outbreaks in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham, Colchester, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and Limerick, among others.
Elsewhere, Italy had only sporadic cases of CPE in 2009 but by 2014, the bugs were rife across the country. “If you look at Italy they’ve suspended bone marrow transplant programmes,” said Dr Matthew Laundy, consultant medical microbiologist at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “If you’ve got no antibiotics to treat CPEs you’re stuck.”
Experts are calling for reports of suspected CPE infections to be made mandatory. The numbers revealed by the Bureau are “shocking,” said Val Edwards-Jones, emeritus professor of microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“It should absolutely be mandatory for trusts to report this,” she said. “If you go back to the 1990s MRSA [reporting] wasn’t mandatory. It was only when hospitals did proper surveillance and began looking at the bugs in the blood that we knew the scale of the problem. Then it was found that there were certain things that weren’t being done correctly.”