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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 16 October 2021

400 new cases found of Irish patients with superbug that is resistant to antibiotics

There has been 401 newly detected cases in 2017 compared to 282 in 2016.

The bacteria is resistant to antibiotics
The bacteria is resistant to antibiotics
Image: Shutterstock/Tatiana Shepeleva

THERE HAS BEEN a 42% increase in the number of new patients detected with a bacteria that can resist antibiotics.

Called Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), the National Public Health Emergency Team has published its first situational analysis report that says there been 401 new cases found this year. That’s compared to 282 in 2016.

The NPHET is not sure if this because of enhanced screening procedures or an actual increase in the number of people with CPE.

In October, Health Minister Simon Harris declared that the CPE superbug is a public health emergency.

superbug story Source: CPE Reference Laboratory Data

What is CPE?

Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae is the newest superbug that is difficult to kill with antibiotics and pose particular problems in hospital environments.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) say that CPE is a serious threat to patient safety due to its resistance of medicines, meaning there are very few options to treat it.

More than half of all patients who develop blood stream infections with CPE die as a result of their infection.

The HSE’s National CPE Action Plan says inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics, understaffing and overcrowding in hospitals and other healthcare settings, and lack of adherence to standard infection prevention and control practices are some of the factors in the increase in CPE reportings.

Inadequate screening procedures and shortage of infection control specialists are also contributing factors.

superbug story2 Source: CPE Reference Laboratory Data

superbug story3 Source: CPE Reference Laboratory Data


A National CPE Response Team was established in May this year to work with hospitals and other healthcare providers to combat the rise.

The HSE says there is a variation in the implementation of the National CPE Screening Policy across hospital groups and individual hospitals, with a push to place CPE on a list of notifiable diseases.

The groups will gather data to understand why more patients might be infected with the bacteria, looking at hospitals, nursing homes and long-care facilities.

This will assist with the main gaps they are facing as many relate to requirements for  the reporting of CPE colonisation and the implementation of national requirements for screening in acute hospitals.

Read: ‘Simon Harris declares a ‘public health emergency’ for superbug’

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