Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriacae (CPE)

I may be a carrier or have an infection – what does it mean?


What does Carbapenemase-producing Enterbacteriacea (CPE) mean?

CPE is bacteria that normally live harmlessly in the gut of humans known as colonisation.

CPE is gram negative bacteria and include klebsiella, escherichia coli and enterobacter species which have become resistant to carbapenem antibiotics.

If these bacteria gets into the bloodstream or bladder, infection can occur and antibiotics will be required.

Carbapenemases are enzymes which destroy carbapenem antibiotics causing resistance, therefore limiting effective antibiotic treatment.

How is CPE spread?

If an inpatient is carrying these bacteria, the bacteria can get into the ward environment and can also be passed on by direct contact with that patient.

There are many vulnerable inpatients and spread of these resistant bacteria can cause problems.

Being in a side room, with ensuite facilities, having effective environmental cleaning and staff performing good hand hygiene all helps to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

Please do not touch any medical devices, (if you have any) for example an intravenous drip or a urinary catheter tube.


Do I need to be screened?

Screening will be offered if a patient has

  • been an inpatient in a hospital abroad within the last 12 months.
  • been an inpatient in a UK hospital which is not  local.
  • been an inpatient in a UK hospital known to have had an outbreak of CPE.
  • Previously been colonised or had an infection with CPE or close contact with someone who has.

How will I be screened for CPE?

Screening is done by taking a rectal swab, by inserting the swab just inside your rectum, or you may be asked to provide a sample of faeces. The swab will be sent to the laboratory, the result normally available within 2-3 days.

If the result is positive, you will remain in a side room for the duration of your hospital stay. If you have an infection, you will need antibiotics

If there are no signs of infection and the swab result is negative, no treatment is needed. You will be able to come out of isolation unless there are any other known infection considerations.

Can I have visitors?

Yes, patients can continue to have visitors.

Advice for visitors

On arrival to the ward, please use the alcohol hand rub.

Visitors must speak to the nurse who is caring for you prior to visiting.

If visitors are involved in direct personal care of the patient, they must wear appropriate Personal protective equipment. The nurse caring for you will advise.

They must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the room .

Please do not visit if you are unwell, have flu like symptoms or diarrhoea and vomiting

Please do not sit on the bed.

It is advisable your visitors do not visit other patients on the ward. If visitors need to visit another department, then  they should do this first.


Do I need to worry when I go home about the risk of spreading CPE?

No special precautions/measures are needed at home.

Carry on as normal and maintain effective hand washing, particularly after going to the toilet and preparing food.

Clean hands protect you and others from other infections/viruses not just CPE.

This page gives general advice.  For further information, please ask either the nursing or medical staff who are providing your care and treatment, or alternatively contact the Infection Prevention and Control Team on 01305 361132.


Physical Health