The Fraser Health Authority is warning the public of an outbreak of the 'superbug' Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) on a medicine unit at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

It's unclear how many people have been affected. Anyone being admitted to or treated in intensive care units operated by Fraser Health and has received renal dialysis or been admitted to a hospital outside of Canada in the last six months is being tested for CPE.

Patients who are infected have been separated from the general population.

The bug, which is brought to Canada through exposure in endemic countries, such as Greece, the United States and South Asian nations, is on the rise globally.

8 things to know about CPE, also known as CRE

  1. The bacteria Enterobacteriaceae are found in human intestines.
  2. Most people who carry the bacteria are colonized, but not infected.
  3. People with strong immune systems rarely become ill.
  4. CPE is usually acquired through exposure in countries including Greece, the United States and South Asian nations.
  5. If you've had a medical procedure in one of these countries in the last six months, inform your doctor.
  6. Antibiotics usually prescribed by doctors may not work to treat CPE.
  7. Completely antibiotic-resistant strains are very rare but have been reported internationally.
  8. Good hygiene practices, such as keeping hands and surfaces clean, prevent the spread of CPE.

Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Fraser Health Authority's executive medical director for infection and prevention, said patients and families can be confident all measures are being taken to prevent the superbug from spreading in hospitals south of the Fraser.

"We have been preparing for increased cases of CPE for some time and have adopted aggressive infection control protocols to detect and isolate these cases in our hospitals," she said.

Globally, CPE has been on the rise for the past 10 years due to increased access to international travel.