South Africa: Health Implements Plan to Contain CRE Outbreak

The Gauteng Health Department and Tembisa Hospital management is currently implementing an operational plan to address the carbapenem-resistant (CRE) Klebsiella pneumonia outbreak that has resulted in the death of 10 babies.

"In addition, the neonatal unit has continued to isolate babies with antibiotic-resistant infections in a separate section of the unit," said the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in a statement on Monday.

Carbapenem-resistant (CRE) Klebsiella pneumonia is a pneumonia which belongs to a group of bacteria that can cause serious infections in newborn babies.

Some strains of K. pneumoniae are resistant to the carbapenem group of antibiotics and are then referred to as carbapenem-resistant enterobacterales (CRE).

On 24 December 2019, the NICD was informed of a suspected outbreak of bloodstream infections in the neonatal unit at Tembisa hospital.

The suspected organism was identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterial pathogen.

"We define an outbreak as an increase in the rate of K. pneumoniae above the baseline rate and we noted an increase above the expected threshold in the number of observed cases of K. pneumoniae bloodstream infections.

"We also monitor if these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics and noted that the threshold was also exceeded for the number of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae bloodstream infections.

Based on the latest information from the NICD, from 1 November 2019 through to 16 January 2020, 22 babies were diagnosed with a K. pneumoniae bloodstream infection and 21 babies were infected with a carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae strain, 10 deaths have been reported.

"There have been three new cases in January 2020 to date and no new deaths," said the NICD.

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