Public Health Emergency Plan to tackle CPE

CPE – Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) also described as (CRE) – bacteria which become resistant to all conventionally used antimicrobials.

  • The Minister for Health has activated the Public Health Emergency Plan to address CPE in our health system.
  • CPE is a superbug resistant to most or all antibiotics.  It is carried in the bowel and can cause blood stream infection in people who are vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with low immunity.
  • CPE has been identified throughout the world in recent years.  Ireland has seen an increase in the number of cases year on year.
  • The number of cases almost doubled in 2016 and is estimated to increase by a further third in 2017.  An opportunity remains to halt or reverse the spread of this superbug through our hospital system.
  • The spread of this superbug in hospitals can lead to the closure of beds, wards and units removing thereby, essential capacity to provide services, to admit patients from Emergency Departments and to address waiting lists effectively.
  • The National Public Health Emergency Team will oversee an enhanced response to this on a weekly basis.  These arrangements are in line with standing emergency plans which have been activated in the past in response to pandemic influenza and ebola preparedness.
  • Public Health and microbiological advice indicates that the opportunity remains for effective interventions to be taken which can protect our patients, protect our hospital capacity from unplanned closures and ultimately lead to a halting or reduction in the spread of this superbug.
  • Activation of the Public Health Emergency Plan and use of the National Public Health Emergency Team allows the system to manage the containment of CPE in a co-ordinated way.  This would ensure alignment and appropriate balance in maximising both access and patient safety across the system.  Infection prevention and control challenges are resulting in difficulties with patient flow in some hospitals.
  • The National Public Health Emergency Team will conduct its work taking into account Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance.  This was launched on Weds 25th October by the Minister for Health and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
  • The first meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team will take place week beginning 30th October and updates will follow.

Details of Terms of Reference and Minutes of NPHET Meetings

Press Releases regarding NPHET