CPE bacteria are a growing threat in Belgium

The CPE bacteria are gaining ground in Belgium. Since the beginning of the year 206 infections have been recorded. The figure is more than the total number of cases last year.

CPE is resistant to many antibiotics and poses a serious threat to vulnerable people.

Béatrice Jans of the Scientific Public Health Institute says that being a carrier of the bacteria is not dangerous if you are healthy: "A carrier usually does not display any illness. The bacteria usually disappear of their own accord after several months."

CPE can cause problems for people who have reduced resistance as it can lead to infections. Few antibiotics are effective against CPE making it difficult to treat.

Until recently the bacteria were chiefly prevalent outside Europe. In recent months though linked cases appeared at hospitals in East Flanders and Antwerp.

It's unclear whether CPE has claimed any lives in Belgium. Béatrice Jans: "It's often difficult to establish whether a patient died of CPE or of other causes."

Béatrice Jans says that hand hygiene is extremely important in preventing the spread of CPE: "Carriers can't be treated, but hand hygiene is essential in hospitals, but also for ordinary people."

Health services recommend that people who come down with a CPE infection should be treated in isolation.