The team at Barts Health, one of the largest NHS hospital groups in the country, has published the findings of a point prevalence screen of all inpatients for carbapenemase-producing organism (CPO) carriage. Overall, 30 (3.1%) of the 977 patient tested were carrying 35 different CPOs (all but one of which were CPE). Risk factors for CPO carriage included hospitalisation abroad, any hospitalisation, and overseas travel (especially to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). These findings help us to understand an emerging picture of CPO in the UK.
A recent US study has investigated CPE contamination of sinks, drains, and wastewater. Carbapenemase-producing bacteria were identified throughout the drainage and water system, from drains in patient rooms, right through to wastewater sampled through manholes adjacent to the hospital. My main question in all of this is whether this huge reservoir of carbapenemases in hospital wastewater is a risk for patients. The lack of genetic similarity between isolates in hospital wastewater and isolates from patients suggest not, but I suspect there’s an indirect link and these carbapenemases find their way into isolates affecting humans, which is supported by genetic links between the plasmids carrying the carbapenemases.