BackgroundNosocomial carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterieceae (CPE) infections constitute a major global health concern and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Rectal colonization with CPE is a risk factor for bacterial translocation leading to subsequent endogenous CPE infections. This prospective observational study was aimed to investigate the prevalence and epidemiology of rectal colonization of CPE, the carbapenemase genotypes, and to identify the independent risk factors for the acquisition of CPE colonization in high-risk patients from ICU and HSCT wards in a university hospital in China.MethodsIn a prospective cohort study, 150 fecal samples from rectal swabs were consecutively obtained for inpatients from the intensive care unit (ICU) and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) wards from November 2018 to May 2019, and screening test for CPE was conducted by using prepared in-house trypsin soybean broth (TSB) selective media and MacConkey agar. Antimicrobial susceptibility was determined by the broth microdilution method and carbapenemase genes were characterized by both the GeneXpert Carba-R and PCR for blaKPC, blaNDM, blaIMP, blaVIM and blaOXA. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) was employed to characterize the genetic relationships among the carbapenemase-producing K. Pneumonia (CPKP) isolates. In order to further investigate the risk factors and clinical outcomes of CPE colonization, a prospective case-control study was also performed.ResultsTwenty-six suspected CPE strains, including 17 Klebsiella pneumoniae, 6 Escherichia coli, 1 Citrobacter freundii, 1 Enterobacter Kobe, and 1 Raoultella ornithinolytica, were identified in 25 non-duplicated rectal swab samples from 25 patients, with a carriage rate of 16.67% (25/150). Through GeneXpert Carba-R and subsequent PCR and sequencing, all the suspected CPE isolates were identified to be positive for the carbapenemase genes, of which 17 were blaKPC-carriers, and another 9 were blaNDM-producers. MLST designated all the CPKP isolates to be ST11 clone. Multivariate analysis indicated that urinary system diseases, operation of bronchoscopy, and combined use of antibiotics were independent risk factors for acquiring CPE colonization in high-risk patients from the ICU and HSCT wards.ConclusionsThis study revealed a high prevalence of rectal CPE colonization in high-risk patients from ICU and HSCT wards, and a predominant colonization of the KPC-producing K. pneumoniae clone ST11. Stricter infection control measures are urgently needed to limit the dissemination of CPE strains, especially in patients who were afflicted by urinary system diseases, have underwent bronchoscopy, and were previously exposed to combined antibiotic use.