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Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE)

What are ‘CPE’ 

Enterobacteriaceae are bugs which can live in the gut of humans and animals. At times they are harmless and there are no signs and symptoms because a person’s immune system keeps them in check. This is called ‘colonisation’. However, if they get into other parts of the body e.g. the urine or the blood, they can cause infection and will need treatment. This can happen in patients who have a weakened immune system. 

CPE infections can be tough to treat because they are resistant to lots of antibiotics, including ‘Carbapenems’ which are only used in severe cases of infection. CPE can also pass their resistance on to other bacteria; making them harder to treat as well. 

It is vital that patients who have a CPE infection or are colonised with CPE are moved to a side room. We hope that this will stop the spread of it and reduce the risk to all of our patients. 

How do people get CPE? 

People can get CPE if they have been in hospital abroad but also if they have been in certain hospitals in the United Kingdom where there is a known problem of CPE. You must let your Doctor know if you have been in a hospital abroad, or have received medical treatment abroad, during the past 12 months. 

You can also be colonised with CPE if you have had a lot of antibiotics in the past. This is because the resistant bugs that survive after you’ve taken antibiotics can then grow. 

CPE are often passed from person to person after touching patient equipment and/or furniture and toilets. This means that it is really important to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. 

Why am I being tested for CPE? 

You will be tested for CPE if: 

  • You have been a patient in a hospital abroad. 
  • You have been a patient in Nobles Hospital in the Isle of Man and hospitals in Ireland. 
  • You have been a patient in a hospital in the UK which has had a spread of the infection. 
  • You have had CPE in the past. 
  • A person you are in close contact with has CPE. 


How will I be tested for CPE? 

The best way to see if you have CPE is to take a quick swab from your rectum (back passage). This is where the bugs will be. The sample will be sent to the laboratory and the results will be sent to the Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) in the hospital. While you are waiting for the results you may be kept in a side room as a safety measure. 

What if I test negative? 

This means that you are not infected or colonised with CPE and you may be moved back to the ward area. You could be tested for CPE again if you are in hospital at another time. 

What if I test positive? 

If you test positive for CPE it means that you have these bugs in your body, but it does not always mean that you are infected. If your doctor thinks you show signs of infection they will contact the microbiology doctors. They will suggest some antibiotics that are suitable to treat the infection. You will also be given a CPE Information Card by your nurse. 

You will stay in a side room with your own toilet or commode while you are in hospital. The staff will wear aprons and gloves when they are caring for you. They will wash their hands when they leave, which is standard practice at the Walton Centre. 

If you do not see your nurse or doctor wash their hands before entering and leaving your room, please ask them to do so. 

Can I still have visitors? 

CPE is not a problem for healthy people and so you are still encouraged to have family and friends come to visit. We ask that they ‘gel’ their hands and put on an apron and gloves on entering your room. Prior to leaving your room we ask that they remove their apron and gloves and wash their hands with soap and water. This makes it easier for us to prevent the spread of the bugs. 

What happens when I leave hospital? 

CPE may stay in your system for a long time and may never go away. This will not be a problem unless you show signs of infection, in which case your Doctor will contact the Microbiologists to discuss the appropriate treatment. If you are ever in hospital again in the future it is vital that you stay in a side room. You should let the doctors know that you have been colonised with CPE (or show them this leaflet). 

We advise that you let your GP know that CPE was identified while you were in the Walton Centre you can show them your CPE Information Card. We will also write to your GP to inform that you have been colonised with CPE . 

Contact us 

For more information, please contact: 

Infection Prevention and Control Team 0151 529 5599 

  • Last Updated:
    01 June 2022
  • Review Date:
    01 June 2025
  • Author:
    Infection Prevention and Control Team
  • Summary:

    Enterobacteriaceae are bugs which can live in the gut of humans and animals

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