Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in the UK: a national study (EuSCAPE-UK) on prevalence, incidence, laboratory detection methods and infection control measures

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To estimate UK prevalence and incidence of clinically significant carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), and to determine epidemiological characteristics, laboratory methods and infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in acute care facilities.


A 6 month survey was undertaken in November 2013–April 2014 in 21 sentinel UK laboratories as part of the European Survey on Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae (EuSCAPE) project. Up to 10 consecutive, non-duplicate, clinically significant and carbapenem-non-susceptible isolates of Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae were submitted to a reference laboratory. Participants answered a questionnaire on relevant laboratory methods and IPC measures.


Of 102 isolates submitted, 89 (87%) were non-susceptible to ≥1 carbapenem, and 32 (36%) were confirmed as CPE. CPE were resistant to most antibiotics, except colistin (94% susceptible), gentamicin (63%), tigecycline (56%) and amikacin (53%). The prevalence of CPE was 0.02% (95% CI = 0.01%–0.03%). The incidence of CPE was 0.007 per 1000 patient-days (95% CI = 0.005–0.010), with north-west England the most affected region at 0.033 per 1000 patient-days (95% CI = 0.012–0.072). Recommended IPC measures were not universally followed, notably screening high-risk patients on admission (applied by 86%), using a CPE ‘flag’ on patients’ records (70%) and alerting neighbouring hospitals when transferring affected patients (only 30%). Most sites (86%) had a laboratory protocol for CPE screening, most frequently using chromogenic agar (52%) or MacConkey/CLED agars with carbapenem discs (38%).


The UK prevalence and incidence of clinically significant CPE is currently low, but these MDR bacteria affect most UK regions. Improved IPC measures, vigilance and monitoring are required.

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