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Carbapenemase-Producing Organisms (CPO)

Learning About Carbapenemase-Producing Organisms (CPO) in the Hospital

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What are carbapenemase​-producing organisms (CPO)?

  • CPO are a group of germs (bacteria) that are resistant to antibiotics called carbapenems.
  • Taking certain antibiotics for long periods of time can increase the risk of getting a CPO.

How does it spread?

  • CPO can be found in the bowel or in wounds. Healthy people usually don’t get CPO infections.
  • It can be spread from person-to-person on hands and equipment that isn’t properly cleaned between uses. This can happen in the community or in healthcare settings; you likely won’t know where you came into contact with CPO.

What do colonization and infection mean?

  • Colonization –This is when the germ is found on your body but it doesn’t make you sick. Some people normally have CPO in their body. In this case it’s no more dangerous than any of the other germs we live with. People who are colonized with CPO are sometimes called carriers.
  • Infection – Infection is what happens when a germ makes you sick. Some people may be at more risk for infection. Symptoms may include pain and fever. As with any other type of infection, some infections can become serious.

How is it treated?

  • People who are carriers aren't usually treated with antibiotics. Colonization with CPO may go away without any treatment.
  • People infected with CPO are often given antibiotics. It’s very important to finish the prescription for antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better.

What do I do if I have or have had CPO?

  • Let the staff know you have or have had CPO.
    • A sign will be put on your door reminding people to use extra precautions.
    • Caregivers will wear a gown over their clothes and wear gloves.

What can I do to decrease the spread of CP​O?

  • Clean your hands regularly with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub (with at least 70% alcohol in it). Antibacterial soaps are not recommended or needed most of the time.
  • Use antibiotics wisely. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop because antibiotics aren’t used or taken properly.
    • Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections. They don’t help for colds, the flu, or other viral infections.
    • Take all your antibiotics, even if you feel better. If you don’t finish them, it may not cure your infection.
    • Don’t use other people’s antibiotics. Different antibiotics are meant for different types of bacteria. Using the wrong one helps the germ become resistant to the antibiotic.
  • Don’t share personal items (e.g., towels, clothing, bedding, bar soap, razors, or sports equipment).
  • Wash clothing using regular laundry soap in the regular wash cycle.
  • Clean shared items (e.g., sports equipment or surfaces like counters) with a household disinfectant.
  • See a doctor for any signs of an infection.
  • Cover wounds that are draining with clean, dry dressing.

Current as of: May 5, 2016

Author: Infection Prevention and Control, Alberta Health Services