Carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE) in health care settings

About enterobacteriaceae

Enterobacteriaceae are bacteria that live in the intestines of all human beings and that can be found in stool. In contrast to normal enterobacteriaceae, CPE produce carbapenemases, which are enzymes that can decrease the effect of antibiotics. CPE aren’t more virulent than normal enterobacteriaceae, but they are resistant to several antibiotic types.

They spread when you touch someone’s hands or an environment that is contaminated with microscopic amounts of CPE-infected stool. If you get bacteria on your hands and swallow them, they can then grow in your intestines. CPE can be detected with a stool sample or a rectal swab.

When users screen positive for CPE, prevention measures are put in place to keep the bacteria from spreading. The CISSS de Laval will deploy these measures in any unit suspected of having the strain. This unit is then said to be in “outbreak.”

This situation is not exclusive to Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé. A number of Quebec hospitals get CPE-type outbreaks. This is not a new bacteria, as it has been in Quebec for a number of years.

To avoid contaminating their environment and to prevent the spread of the bacteria, users who are carriers may be placed under additional precautions. In this case, staff and visitors must wear long-sleeved gowns and gloves.

Users may be carriers of the bacteria without being infected or showing symptoms. CPE infections are rare.

To avoid spreading the bacteria

Hand hygiene is the best way to stop the spread of bacterial infections. Wash your hands with an alcohol-based rub or with soap and water to kill the CPE.

Hand hygiene is your best weapon

Users, visitors and health care workers all have to perform hand hygiene at key moments. Good hand hygiene is the most effective way to stop the spread of infections. 

Are you about to receive care or services?

Don’t hesitate to ask your health care worker to clean their hands first.

Health care workers must practise hand hygiene at the 4 key moments

  • Before touching users or their surroundings.
  • Before performing an aseptic procedure, such as installing a catheter.
  • After the risk of exposure to a bodily fluid, such as urine and blood
  • After touching users or their surroundings. 

Users or visitors must wash or clean their hands at the following moments:

  • When entering or exiting a facility.
  • When entering or exiting a user’s room.
  • After going to the bathroom.
  • Before preparing, touching or serving food or eating.
  • Before taking medication.