Infection and Dementia

A study found one in five nursing home residents with advanced dementia harbor strains of drug-resistant bacteria. More than 10 percent of the drug-resistant bacteria are resistant to four or more antibiotic classes. The research was published online in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Erika D’Agata is an infectious disease physician at Rhode Island Hospital and lead author of the study. She warned:

“Nursing home residents with advanced dementia usually have an increased need for healthcare worker assistance, as well as frequent exposure to antibiotics. This combination may be leading to a subset of vulnerable long-term care residents at high risk of both acquiring and spreading these dangerous bugs. Frequent hospitalization among these residents also provides a constant influx of drug-resistant bacteria into the hospital setting, further fostering the spread throughout the healthcare delivery system.”

The most common bacteria found among the study subjects was drug-resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Proteus mirabilis (P. mirabilis). Poor custodial care by overworked CNAs account for the e.coli. Other possible reasons include hospital stays among residents from different nursing homes and healthcare professionals cross-covering multiple nursing homes.