What are Carbapenamase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPEs)?
Enterobacteriaceae are bacteria that usually live harmlessly in the gut of humans and animals. However, if the bacteria get into the wrong place, such as the bladder or blood, they can cause infection.
Carbapenamase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPEs) are a strain of this bacteria which are resistant to many antibiotics, including a powerful group of antibiotics known as carbapenems. This group of antibiotics is used to treat severe infections which cannot be treated with more conventional antibiotics.
Why am I being screened?
As mentioned above, sometimes this bacteria can be found living harmlessly in the gut of humans, and so it can be difficult to say when or where you could have been exposed. However, there is an identified increased risk of picking up these bacteria if you have been an inpatient in a hospital abroad, or in another UK hospital that may have had patients carrying the bacteria, or if you have been in contact with a carrier elsewhere.
As you have been an inpatient in the last year in another hospital that could have had patients carrying these bacteria, we need to take swabs to see if you have CPE in your gut. It is important that we know whether you are carrying this bacteria so we can put appropriate infection control precautions in place, and to ensure you get appropriate treatment should it cause an infection.
How will I be screened?
Screening requires taking three stool samples, one each day for three consecutive days . You will be given a pack which will contain the stool sample pots and forms. Both the pot and form should be dated for each of the three sample days. You should return all three samples to your GP surgery as soon as possible. You will be contacted if the result if positive. If you have not heard anything within a fortnight this will indicate that your samples were negative.
What if the CPE screen is positive?
If CPE is found in your gut this means you are a ‘carrier’ and does not need to be treated. You will not normally suffer any effects from carrying CPE in your gut. However, if the CPE does cause an infection then antibiotics will be required.
You will be accommodated in a single room whilst in hospital. Healthcare workers will clean their hands regularly and use gloves and aprons when caring for you. The most important measure for you to take is to wash your hands well, especially after going to the toilet. If you have any medical devices, such as drip or catheter, you should avoid touching these, particularly at the point where they are inserted into the body.
Your visitors do not need to wear gloves and aprons, and once you have been discharged from hospital there is no need to do anything different at home.
What about when I go home?
Whilst there is a chance that you may still be a carrier when you go home, quite often the bacteria will go away with time. No special measures or treatment are required; any infection will have been treated prior to your discharge. You should carry on as normal, maintaining good hand hygiene.
Should you or a member of your household be admitted to hospital, you should let staff know that you are/have been identified as a carrier of CPE.
Where can I find more information?
If you would like any further information please speak to the doctor or nurse looking after you, who can contact the Infection Prevention and Control team for you.