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Emergence of Klebsiella pneumoniae Carbapenemase-Producing Bacteria

Ryan S. Arnold, MD, Kerri A. Thom, MD, MS, Saarika Sharma, MD, MA, Michael Phillips, MD, J. Kristie Johnson, PhD, Daniel J. Morgan, MD
Volume: 104 Issue: 1 January, 2011

Abstract:

Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing bacteria are a group of emerging highly drug-resistant Gram-negative bacilli causing infections associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Once confined to outbreaks in the northeastern United States (US), they have spread throughout the US and most of the world. KPCs are an important mechanism of resistance for an increasingly wide range of Gram-negative bacteria and are no longer limited to K pneumoniae. KPC-producing bacteria are often misidentified by routine microbiological susceptibility testing and incorrectly reported as sensitive to carbapenems; however, resistance to the carbapenem antibiotic ertapenem is common and a better indicator of the presence of KPCs. Carbapenem antibiotics are generally not effective against KPC-producing organisms. The best therapeutic approach to KPC-producing organisms has yet to be defined; however, common treatments based on in vitro susceptibility testing are the polymyxins, tigecycline, and less frequently, aminoglycoside antibiotics. The purpose of this review is to identify the various challenges that KPC-producing bacteria present to clinicians. These include the need for special techniques for microbiological detection, the potential for nosocomial transmission, and therapeutic challenges related to limited, relatively unproven antimicrobial treatment options.

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