CPE stands for Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales. A CPE Contact is someone with a higher risk of carrying CPE.
CPE is a type of superbug. These are bugs that are resistant to many antibiotics. This means that some antibiotics that used to treat them no longer work very well.
Being a CPE Contact does not mean you carry CPE or have a CPE infection. It does mean there's a risk that CPE has spread to you.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you that you're a CPE Contact when you've had contact with someone carrying CPE or spent time in a ward where others have caught it.
Staff should talk to you about what being a CPE Contact means. If you've already left hospital, you may receive a letter about it.
If you're a CPE Contact
Ask for a CPE Contact card. You can use this to tell your doctor or nurse that you're a CPE Contact when you visit any hospital or health service.
If you're a CPE Contact and are not in hospital, you do not need to be tested for CPE. If you would like tests done, talk to your doctor.
If you're a CPE Contact and are admitted to or already in hospital, staff will take samples for testing.
Samples can be taken from your poo (faeces) or swabbed from your rectum. Usually, you'll give 4 samples over a period of time.
Test results from these samples will show if you carry CPE in your gut.
CPE test results
You should get the result of each CPE test back within a few days.
If a test result is positive, you are carrying CPE.
If CPE is not found on any of the samples, you're no longer a CPE Contact.
Risk of CPE infection
The risk of a CPE Contact developing a CPE infection is low.
If you do get an infection, a doctor can treat you with antibiotics.
If you're a CPE Contact, this should not get in the way of your normal home life. CPE does not spread as quickly outside of hospital. It's also less likely to harm people well enough to be at home.
Stop the spread of bacteria by cleaning your hands regularly. Wash with soap or use alcohol hand rub. Keep your toilet clean and wash clothes, bed linen and dishes as usual.
You don't need to limit time spent or contact with anyone. You also don't need to tell friends or family that you're a CPE contact.
Prevent the spread of CPE
Always tell healthcare staff if you are a CPE Contact. Show your CPE Contact card when you go to a hospital or clinic.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE