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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 01, 2020
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Hospitals may be at higher risk for MDROs during COVID-19 surges

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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At a New Jersey hospital, a cluster of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii infections peaked during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, suggesting that hospitals with COVID-19 surges are vulnerable to drug-resistant infections.

Carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii (CRAB), an opportunistic pathogen primarily associated with hospital-acquired infections, is an urgent public health threat,” Stephen Perez, PhD, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, and colleagues wrote. “In health care facilities, CRAB readily contaminates the patient care environment and health care providers’ hands, survives for extended periods on dry surfaces, and can be spread by asymptomatically colonized persons; these factors make CRAB outbreaks in acute-care hospitals difficult to control.”

MDRO graphic
Source: Perez S, et al. MMWR Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6948e1.

In a study published in MMWR, Perez and colleagues identified 34 patients with hospital-acquired multidrug-resistant CRAB between February and July at a single hospital in New Jersey. The rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations increased in late March, causing shortages in personal protective equipment and other medical equipment, as well as alterations to infection prevention and control (IPC) practices in hospitals.

Of the 34 patients with CRAB, 28 (82%) had a CRAB infection that occurred during the hospital’s surge in COVID-19 cases and 17 (50%) had SARS-CoV-2. None of the patients had a previously documented CRAB infection.

To address the danger of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) to hospitals during COVID-19 surges, the researchers suggested that maintaining infection prevention and control best practices — including MDRO surveillance — hand hygiene and environmental cleaning audits could aid in reducing spread.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required hospitals to take unprecedented measures to maintain continuity of patient care and protect health care personnel from infection,” the authors wrote. “This outbreak highlights that MDROs can spread rapidly in hospitals experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases and cause serious infections in this setting. To reduce spread of MDROs and the risk of infection for patients, hospitals should remain vigilant to prevent and detect clusters of unusual infections and respond promptly when they are detected.”