Objectives: Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing Enterobacteriaceae were first seen in the UK in 2003 and have been increasingly reported since 2010, largely owing to an ongoing outbreak in North-West England. We examined the role of clonal spread and plasmid transmission in their emergence.
Methods: : Isolates comprised KPC-positive K. pneumoniae ( n = 33), Escherichia coli ( n = 7) and Enterobacter spp. ( n = 4) referred to the national reference laboratory between 2008 and 2010 from 17 UK centres, including three in North-West England. Isolates were typed by MLST. Plasmids were transferred by electroporation and characterized by PCR or sequencing. PCR screening assays were developed to distinguish plasmid pKpQIL variants.
Results: : The K. pneumoniae isolates included 10 STs, of which three belonged to clonal group (CG) 258. CG258 ( n = 19) isolates were detected in 13 centres but accounted for only 7/19 (36.8%) of those from North-West England. Most KPC-producers (37/44, 84.1%), including 16/19 CG258 K. pneumoniae , carried bla KPC on IncFII K2 plasmids. Sequencing of a subset of these plasmids ( n = 11) revealed similarities with published pKpQIL. One variant, pKpQIL-UK [identified in K. pneumoniae CG258 ( n = 5) and ST468 ( n = 1) isolates from distinct centres] had only a few nucleotide changes from classical pKpQIL, whereas pKpQIL-D1 ( n = 1) and pKpQIL-D2 ( n = 4), from isolates of various species in the North-West, harboured large variations, reflecting replacement of the partitioning and replication functions and potentially thereby facilitating spread. PCR revealed that 36/37 (97.3%) IncFII K2 -type plasmids in KPC-positive isolates had pKpQIL markers.
Conclusions: : pKpQIL-like plasmids played a major role in the early dissemination of KPC enzymes in the UK.
- Journal Article