Study links residents, "superbugs"

Share this content:

Patients arriving from long-term care facilities are 12 times as likely to carry "superbugs" that resist antibiotic treatments, researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital have found. The risk is 22 times as high if the resident used a wheelchair or was largely bedridden.

In response, the hospital will soon begin testing transfers from nursing homes for the bacterium Acinetobacter. Such residents will be treated as potential carriers unless the tests are negative, officials said.

Investigators said they were most surprised that patients carrying Acinetobacter also often carried other "superbugs:" MRSA (62%), VRE (77%) and ESBL (39%). They gave no explanation for the frequent presence of any of the superbugs but noted that people with older, compromised health systems, and people who have lost use of their legs, are most vulnerable.

The four-month study involved more than 1,600 patients. Researchers presented their findings Monday at the Society of Health Care Epidemiology's annual meeting in Baltimore.