There is rising concern about the drug-resistant superbug called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), which is reported to have caused sixteen deaths in Manchester during the past four years.
KPC causes urinary tract infections and pneumonia in patients with suppressed immune systems, such as frail elderly or severely ill patients. It is resistant to treatment with carbapenems (the only group of antibiotics which now work against multidrug-resistant bacteria).
The enzyme used by KPC to render antibiotics ineffective may have entered other bacteria, including E. coli and Enterobacter.
The KPC resistance mechanism first emerged in the United States and later spread to Israel and Greece. It is reported to have reached epidemic proportions in Italy.
“Central Manchester Hospitals has already had to review guidelines on antibiotics and the treatment of patients who require bowel surgery or cancer treatment that may leave their immunity compromised”.
In the UK, the problem may be spreading from the North West of England into the Midlands region. A Freedom of Information request reveals there have been two cases of KPC at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton in the past two years. Ten patients have been infected at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Paduano, M. (2014). Warning over hospital superbug linked to 16 deaths. Birmingham: BBC Midlands Health News, March 7th 2014.
Scientists warn over antibiotic-resistant superbug. Birmingham: BBC (Birmingham and Black Country) News, March 7th 2014.
Advice and assistance has been supplied by Public Health England:
Antibiotic resistance ‘toolkit’ launched. London: NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, March 7th 2013.
Note: A collection of further information resources on this topic was compiled in March 2014.
February 2017 Local News Update
Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital: ‘Superbug’ for three patients. Birmingham: BBC Birmingham and Black Country News, February 3rd 2017.
July 2019 Update
Gallagher, J. (2019). Drug-resistant superbug spreading in Europe’s hospitals. London: BBC Health News, July 29th 2019.