Submitted. Fraser Health is informing the public of an outbreak of Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) on a medicine unit at Royal Columbian Hospital.
First reported last week, the infection prevention and control measures are already in place; however, because of sustained transmission of the bacteria on this unit, we are now declaring an outbreak and have implemented further measures. This includes separating patients, who are known through our screening protocol to be colonized, providing them with dedicated staff and equipment and clearly dividing the affected unit between patients who are carrying the bacteria and those who are not. As RCH is an older facility with most rooms being occupied by multiple people, this is a necessary and effective control measure.
“We have been preparing for increased cases of CPE for some time and have adopted aggressive infection control protocols to detect and isolate these cases in our hospitals,” says Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Executive Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Control at Fraser Health. “Our patients and families can be confident that all measures are in place to protect them while they are in our care.”
Over the past 10 years, there has been a global increase in the appearance of CPE. As international travel becomes more accessible, the prevalence of this bacteria in our region has also increased. Fraser Health has implemented a screening process for all patients admitted into our hospitals, particularly those being treated in intensive care units. The screening process involves asking whether or not patients have been admitted into a hospital or received renal dialysis outside of Canada within the past six months. Anyone who answers yes to the screening question will be tested for CPE.
Health care providers working with patients who are carriers of CPE are taking extra measures to prevent spreading the organism to other patients. This includes the use of gowns and gloves during care and cohorting patients that are colonized with CPE. It is very important for visitors and health care providers to practice good hand cleaning at all times to help keep them and our patients safe.
Unlike some other infections, CPE colonization develops slowly, which means it will take several weeks before we can declare the outbreak over. In the meantime patients and visitors should not be discouraged from coming to the hospital for care or to visit.