Objectives: To characterize isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae producing KPC carbapenemase (KPC-Kp) associated with an outbreak in a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) in South Florida.
Methods: During 21 March to 20 April 2008, 241 K. pneumoniae isolates detected at Integrated Regional Laboratories (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) for which the ertapenem MICs were > or =4 mg/L were studied. PCR, cloning and sequence analysis were used to detect bla(KPC) and to characterize the beta-lactamase and outer membrane proteins (Omps). The expression level of KPC enzymes was studied by immunoblotting. Genetic relatedness of isolates was investigated with rep-PCR and PFGE. Clinical records of patients were investigated.
Results: Seven KPC-Kp strains were isolated from different patients located at a single LTACH, with a further three isolates being recovered from patients at different hospitals. All KPC-Kp isolates in patients from the LTACH and from one hospital patient were genetically related and shared PFGE patterns that clustered with known sequence type (ST) 258 strains. These strains were highly resistant to carbapenems (MICs > or = 32 mg/L) due to an increased level of KPC expression and loss of Omps. Rectal colonization was documented in all LTACH patients with KPC-Kp isolates. Treatment failures were common (crude mortality rate of 69%). Active surveillance and enhanced infection control practices terminated the KPC-Kp outbreak.
Conclusions: The detection of KPC-Kp in an LTACH represents a serious infection control and therapeutic challenge in a new clinical setting. The speed at which the epidemic of KPC-Kp is spreading in our healthcare system mandates urgent action.