Background: The class A carbapenemase KPC has disseminated rapidly worldwide, challenging the treatment of Gram-negative infections. This report describes the first KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates identified in Norway (n=6) and the second isolate from Sweden.
Methods: Antimicrobial susceptibility profiles were determined using Etest. PCR and sequencing were used to determine the bla(KPC) variant, the surrounding genetic structure and the presence of AmpC and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase genes. PFGE and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were used for epidemiological comparisons. Localization of bla(KPC) was investigated by S1 nuclease digestion, followed by PFGE and Southern blot hybridization.
Results: All isolates expressed a multidrug-resistant phenotype with some variability in the carbapenem susceptibility profile. The Norwegian isolates carried bla(KPC-2), while the Swedish isolate carried bla(KPC-3). All isolates carried TEM-1, but were negative for bla(CTX-M) and bla(AmpC) genes. SHV-11 and SHV-12 were detected in the Norwegian isolates, while the Swedish isolate carried only SHV-11. Isolates from four patients were associated with import from Greece (n=3) and Israel. The other isolates were probably associated with local transmissions. PFGE and MLST showed that the isolates were clonally related, with three isolates displaying ST258, a single locus variant of ST11 previously associated with the clonal spread of CTX-M-15-producing K. pneumoniae in Hungary. In all isolates, bla(KPC) was located on plasmids as part of isoform a of Tn4401.
Conclusions: The emergence of KPC-producing isolates of K. pneumoniae in Norway and Sweden is associated with multiple import events and probable local transmission of a successful multiresistant ST258 clone, closely related to the CTX-M-15-producing ST11 clone previously described in Hungary.