CPE infection was made notifiable in 2011, but the new provisions require that cases of CPE colonisation are also notified. In October 2017, a CPE national public health emergency was declared by Minister for Health Simon Harris following what he termed a “rapid and worrying increase” in incidence.
In December 2017, a situational analysis published by the National Public Health Emergency Team reported that “CPE is not on the list of notifiable diseases therefore reporting is not currently mandatory. This has an impact on the completeness and timeliness of current data.” The report said the Department of Health was preparing a Statutory Instrument to provide for the addition of CPE colonisation to the list of notifiable diseases.
Some 67 patients in acute hospitals were newly-confirmed with CPE in October 2018, compared with 49 in September. There were 433 patients newly-confirmed with CPE in 2017 versus 282 in 2016.
mcr-positive Enterobacteriaceae, which have also become notifiable, represent a particular cause for concern as they are resistant to colistin, one of the few drugs available for treating infections caused by CPE.
These measures were included in the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which Minister Harris signed into law on 18 December. The regulations also make neonatal herpes simplex virus a notifiable disease. Minister Harris signed the regulations in the presence of John and Louise Wills, who have advocated for this measure since the loss of their infant daughter Eibhlín due to complications arising from the disease.
Meanwhile, the regulations amend the Infectious Diseases Regulations 1981 to require both confirmed or suspected cases of Creutzfeld Jakob disease and variant Creutzfeld Jakob disease to be notifiable, in line with the other diseases listed as notifiable.