Study: Antibiotic use may boost superbug spread in nursing homes

Antibiotic treatment may increase the risk of nursing home residents acquiring drug-resistant infections, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the study, researchers from Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan analyzed data from 12 nursing homes in the state collected between 2010 and 2013 as part of a separate research initiative called the Targeted Infection Prevention study. Researchers focused their analysis on 234 residents who had a urinary catheter for longer than three days to assess catheter-associated urinary tract infection risk.

Forty percent of the nursing home residents had more than one multidrug-resistant organism on their bodies, and individuals with certain combinations of MDROs were more likely to develop a CAUTI. Treatment with antibiotics also increased residents' risk of developing an infection from a different MDRO, thereby creating a chain reaction of infections.

"We observed a complex network of interactions, with acquisition of each of six different MDRO species being influenced by different sets of antibiotics, and primary MDRO colonization in turn increasing the risk of acquisition and infection by other MDROs," said lead study author Joyce Wang, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at University of Michigan.

The research team created a map detailing how various antibiotics and bacteria interact with each other in clinical settings. The team hopes the research will help clinicians provide more targeted infection treatments and prevent the spread of MDROs through antibiotic use.

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