Superbug kills 16 people in Manchester NHS hospital trust

The strain is known for being resistant to even extremely strong antibiotics

Kashmira Gander
Friday 07 March 2014 16:03
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A patients, unrelated to the deaths, recovers in a hospital ward in England.
A patients, unrelated to the deaths, recovers in a hospital ward in England.

Sixteen people have died in the past four years in Manchester from a strain of “superbug”.

The highly resistant form of Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase (KPC) has caused hundreds of infections and 17 deaths – 16 of those in the Manchester area, the BBC reported.

A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that between 2009 and 2013, the numbers of patients affected within Central Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust rose year on year.

Out of the 1,241 patients affected, 62 suffered blood poisoning - with 14 confirmed deaths within 30 days of infection - at the trust. Two other deaths have also been confirmed in the current year.

KPC is resistant to the carbapenems group of antibiotics that are generally regarded as the “last effective defence” against multi-resistant bacterial infections.

The Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the enzyme which KPC uses to render antibiotics ineffective had now entered other bacteria, including E-coli and enterobacter.

It added all the patients who had died were seriously ill, and were suffering from diabetes, kidney problems or transplant rejection.

Other people who died had leukaemia or other forms of cancer.

The trust said it "continues to make strenuous efforts to control and reduce this infection.

"We continue to work very closely with Public Health England at both a local and national level to develop solutions for the long-term management of patients," it added.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, a specialist cancer hospital, said nine patients had been exposed to KPC last year.

Two cases of KPC have also been found at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, with one patient dying in the past two years.

Dr Mike Cooper, a microbiologist at the trust, told the BBC the patient was 96 years old and the form KPC she died from was still susceptible to some drugs.

“There's a huge element of luck in this,” he said.

“Either Manchester has been extremely unlucky or we have been extremely lucky not to have more cases.”

10 patients at the University Hospital of Stoke-on-Trent have also been colonised with the bacteria.

Two had urinary tract infections, but neither patient died of blood poisoning.

Stoke's microbiologist, Jeorge Orendi, said: “Unlike the situation in certain hospitals in Manchester and London, fortunately in our hospital and catchment area, carbapenemase producers have remained rare to date.”

Additional reporting by PA

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