Control of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae outbreaks in acute settings: an evidence review

J Hosp Infect. 2017 Jan;95(1):3-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2016.10.006. Epub 2016 Oct 14.


Background: In recent years, infections with carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) have been increasing globally and present a major public health challenge.

Aim: To review the international literature: (i) to describe CPE outbreaks in acute hospital settings globally; and (ii) to identify the control measures used during these outbreaks and report on their effectiveness.

Methods: A systematic search of MEDLINE and EMBASE databases, abstract lists for key conferences and reference lists of key reviews was undertaken, and information on unpublished outbreaks was sought for 2000-2015. Where relevant, risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. A narrative synthesis of the evidence was conducted.

Findings: Ninety-eight outbreaks were eligible. These occurred worldwide, with 53 reports from Europe. The number of cases (CPE infection or colonization) involved in outbreaks varied widely, from two to 803. In the vast majority of outbreaks, multi-component infection control measures were used, commonly including: patient screening; contact precautions (e.g. gowns, gloves); handwashing interventions; staff education or monitoring; enhanced environmental cleaning/decontamination; cohorting of patients and/or staff; and patient isolation. Seven studies were identified as providing the best-available evidence on the effectiveness of control measures. These demonstrated that CPE outbreaks can be controlled successfully using a range of appropriate, commonly used, infection control measures. However, risk of bias was considered relatively high for these studies.

Conclusion: The findings indicate that CPE outbreaks can be controlled using combinations of existing measures. However, the quality of the evidence base is weak and further high-quality research is needed, particularly on the effectiveness of individual infection control measures.

Keywords: Acute settings; Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae; Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae; Infection control; Outbreak.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Critical Care
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / enzymology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / prevention & control
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • beta-Lactamases / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • beta-Lactamases
  • carbapenemase