Study leader Dr. Erin' O'Fallon, a geriatrician at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston said that the prevalence of a certain form of drug-resistant bacteria -- multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms -- far surpassed that of two other common antimicrobial-resistant infections in long-term care facilities.
"Recently, it has become apparent that multidrug resistance among gram-negative bacteria is becoming an even greater problem in these facilities, with nearly half of long-term care facility residents harboring multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria," the researchers said in a statement.
Infection from multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms can lead to toxins in the bloodstream that cause inflammation and destroy healthy tissue and if left untreated, these infections can be fatal, O'Fallon said.
The researchers used more than 1,660 clinical cultures of urine, blood and wound specimens obtained from residents at a large, urban long-term care facility. The researchers found 180 cases of multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms compared to 104 cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas and 11 cases of vancomycin-resistant enterococci.
Of further concern was the steady rise in multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms over the two-year study period, which increased from 7 percent the first year to 13 percent in the last year, the study said.
The findings were published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
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