17 die from hospital 'superbug'
Sixteen people have died in the Manchester area in the past four years from a highly resistant "superbug", according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase (KPC) has been responsible for hundreds of infections, with 17 people dying, including 16 in Manchester, the BBC reported.
It said 1,241 patients were affected within the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust area from 2009 to 2013, with the numbers increasing year on year.
Some 62 patients have suffered blood poisoning - with 14 confirmed deaths within 30 days of infection - at the trust. Two other deaths have also been confirmed i n the current year.
KPC is resistant to carbapenems - a group of antibiotics that, in many cases, are regarded as the "last effective defence" against multi-resistant bacterial infections.
The Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the enzyme which KPC uses to render antibiotics ineffective had now entered other bacteria, including E-coli and enterobacter.
It said all the patients who had died were seriously ill, such as with diabetes, kidney problems or transplant rejection. Others had leukaemia or other forms of cancer.
The trust said: "This trust has and continues to make strenuous efforts to control and reduce this infection. We continue to work very closely with Public Health England at both a local and national level to develop solutions for the long-term management of patients."
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, a specialist cancer hospital, said nine patients had been colonised with KPC last year.
Two cases of KPC have also been found at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, with one patient dying in the past two years.
Its microbiologist, Dr Mike Cooper, told the BBC the patient was 96 and her form of KPC was still susceptible to some drugs.
"There's a huge element of luck in this," he said. "Either Manchester has been extremely unlucky or we have been extremely lucky not to have more cases."
Some 10 patients have also been colonised at the University Hospital of Stoke-on-Trent. Two had urinary tract infections, but neither patient died of blood poisoning.
Stoke's microbiologist, Jeorge Orendi, said: "Unlike the situation in certain hospitals in Manchester and London, fortunately in our hospital and catchment area, carbapenemase producers have remained rare to date."
Professor Neil Woodford, head of the PHE antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections reference unit, said: "KPC is one of a number of enzymes, known as carbapenemases, which can make a bacteria resistant to carbapenem antibiotics.
"Other types of carbapenemase include NDM, OXA-48, and VIM enzymes, and a number of others. Bacteria with these resistance mechanisms have been found in the UK and around the world in many different types of bacteria, but especially in gut bacteria such as Klebsiella, E.coli and enterobacter.
"Gut bacteria that produce KPC or other carbapenemase enzymes are known as carbapenamase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE).
"Public Health England works with NHS colleagues to identify bacteria that have these resistance mechanisms. The new PHE tool kit provides guidance to control the spread of bacteria that produce carbapenemases and are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics."