Detection and Characterization of Targeted Carbapenem-Resistant Health Care-Associated Threats: Findings from the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network, 2017 to 2019


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Carbapenemase gene-positive (CP) Gram-negative bacilli are of significant clinical and public health concern. Their rapid detection and containment are critical to preventing their spread and additional infections they can cause. To this end, CDC developed the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (AR Lab Network), in which public health laboratories across all 50 states, several cities, and Puerto Rico characterize clinical isolates of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA), and Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) and conduct colonization screens to detect the presence of mobile carbapenemase genes. In its first 3 years, the AR Lab Network tested 76,887 isolates and 31,001 rectal swab colonization screens. Targeted carbapenemase genes (bla(KPC), bla(NDM), bla(OXA-48-like), bla(VIM), or bla(IMP)) were detected by PCR in 35% of CRE, 2% of CRPA, and,1% of CRAB isolates and 8% of colonization screens tested, respectively. bla(KPC) and bla(VIM) were the most common genes in CP-CRE and CP-CRPA isolates, respectively, but regional differences in the frequency of carbapenemase genes detected were apparent. In CRE and CRPA isolates tested for carbapenemase production and the presence of the targeted genes, 97% had concordant results; 3% of CRE and 2% of CRPA isolates were carbapenemase production positive but PCR negative for those genes. Isolates harboring bla(NDM) showed the highest frequency of resistance across the carbapenems tested, and those harboring bla(IMP) and bla(OXA-48-like) genes showed the lowest frequency of carbapenem resistance. The AR Lab Network provides a national snapshot of rare and emerging carbapenemase genes, delivering data to inform public health actions to limit the spread of these antibiotic resistance threats.
AR Lab Network, carbapenemase producing, Gram negative, carbapenem resistant
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