Aged Care Facilities Nurturing Superbugs [Australia]

John Elder | The Age Victoria | October 5, 2014

Nursing home residents appear to be significant carriers of superbug infections into hospitals, potentially putting other patients at risk. This is the latest finding in a series of Monash University studies that have investigated management of infection in Melbourne's aged care facilities, and the over-prescription of antibiotics to residents.  The findings have prompted a call for a rethink on how nursing homes manage hygiene, and raised the question as to whether care facilities need to be more physically structured like hospitals – including the abandonment of germ-harbouring carpet for lino.  

In the latest study, Monash University researchers carried out swab tests on 115 residents of four high-care facilities in Melbourne – and found that more than a third of them were infected with antibiotic-resistant superbugs. In one facility, nearly half of the residents were infected.  One of the lead researchers, Associate Professor Anton Peleg, from Monash School of Biomedical Sciences, said that 50 per cent of the residents had received antibiotics in the three months before the swabs were done; and 22 per cent and been admitted to hospital for at least two days in the three months before swabbing.

"This highlights the level of antibiotic exposure to these residents, as well as the high frequency of them being transported to and from acute care, therefore poising potential risk," said Dr Peleg.  Of greatest concern, he said, was the emergence of a wider range of drug-resistant bacteria in the care facilities. Normally, bugs such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus). But this wider range of drug-resistant bacterial infections were actually more prevalent than MRSA and VRE...