New Jersey hospital saw increase of hospital-acquired bacterial infection during earlier COVID-19 surge, CDC finds

Between February and July, 34 patients at a New Jersey hospital acquired carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanni infection or colonization, according to the CDC's Dec. 1 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The bacteria can lead to pneumonia and wound, blood stream and urinary tract infections. 

Most CRAB infections were identified during the hospital's influx of COVID-19 patients between March and June. 

Of the 34 identified CRAB cases, 20 patients were diagnosed with an infection, including 14 with clinically diagnosed CRAB ventilator-associated pneumonia. At the time of the report, 23 patients were discharged, 10 died and one remained hospitalized. 

Shortages related to personal protective equipment, staff and other equipment during the COVID-19 patient surge in late March led the hospital to stray away from its usual infection prevention and control practices, which ultimately contributed to the outbreak, according to the report.

Before the pandemic, ventilator circuits and suctioning catheters were changed every 14 days and three days, respectively. During the COVID-19 surge, ventilator parts were only changed if they were visibly soiled or malfunctioning in an effort to conserve equipment. The hospital resumed standard IPC practices in late May when COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased, and CRAB cases also subsided. In August, no hospital-associated CRAB cases were reported. 

"Facilities should prioritize continuity of core IPC practices to the greatest extent possible during surges in hospitalizations and make every effort to return to normal operating procedures as soon as capacity allows," the report said. 


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