High rate of colistin resistance among patients with carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae infection accounts for an excess of mortality


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Corresponding author: M. Giannella, 2nd Division of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Infectious Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, Via Portuense 292, 00149 Rome, Italy

E-mail: maddalena.giannella@libero.it


Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-KP) is becoming a common cause of healthcare-associated infection in Italy, with high morbidity and mortality. Prevalent CR-KP clones and resistance mechanisms vary between regions and over time. Therapeutic approaches and their impact on mortality have to be investigated. We performed a prospective study of patients with CR-KP isolation, hospitalized in nine hospitals of Rome, Italy, from December 2010 to May 2011, to describe the molecular epidemiology, antibiotic treatment and risk factors for mortality. Overall, 97 patients (60% male, median age 69 years) were enrolled. Strains producing blaKPC-3 were identified in 89 patients, blaVIM in three patients and blaCTX-M-15 plus porin defects in the remaining five patients. Inter-hospital spread of two major clones, ST512 and ST258, was found. Overall, 36.1% and 20.4% of strains were also resistant to colistin and tigecycline, respectively. Infection was diagnosed in 91 patients who received appropriate antibiotic treatment, combination therapy and removal of the infectious source in 73.6%, 59.3% and 28.5% of cases, respectively. Overall, 23 different antibiotic regimens were prescribed. In-hospital mortality was 25.8%. Multivariate analysis adjusted for appropriate treatment, combination therapy and infectious-source removal, showed that Charlson comorbidity score, intensive-care unit onset of infection, bacteraemia and infection due to a colistin-resistant CR-KP strain were independent risk factors for mortality. The spread of clones producing K. pneumoniae carbapenemases, mainly ST258, is currently the major cause of CR-KP infection in central Italy. We observed a high rate of resistance to colistin that is independently associated with worse outcome.