What is the KPC superbug?


Klebsiella pneumoniae is a rod shaped type of bacteria commonly found in the normal flora of the mouth, skin, and intestines.

K. pneumoniae can in turn cause an infection called klebsiella pneumonia. This can provoke lung inflammation and cell death that may produce a thick, bloody, mucoid sputum. This often happens after the bacteria migrate from their normal place of resting to the lower respiratory tract. (For more on this see the questions below)

The KPC superbug arises when the Klebsiella bacteria become resistant to the carbapenem drugs often used to treat them. These drug resistant bacteria are called Carbapenemases. They are active in other bacteria beside Klebsiella and this resistance group are sometimes referred to as Carbapenem Resistant En (CRE)

Different types of KPC exist around the world and are most often seen in hospital patients with compromised immune systems and significant exposure to hospital infections. They have spread around the USA in the last 10 years and often have a foothold in long term care facilities.

They have gained media attention since September 2012 because of the interest in the battle that the National Insitute of Health experienced in uprooting the infection from their state of the art facility and the many deaths that have occurred from one single outbreak. KPC and CRE are considered to be among the most potent threats to public health in the world at this time. They threaten to turn formerly treatable infections into life ending challenges.

See our KPC superbug guide below

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