Hand Contamination and Antibiotics Fuel Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

The spectrum of care needs among nursing home residents, varying from short-term post-acute care for rehabilitation to more intensive nursing care, has grown. This trend aligns with a rise in the transmission of drug-resistant bacteria within these environments.

Research led by Evan Snitkin, Ph.D., of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Lona Mody, M.D., interim division chief of Geriatric & Palliative Care Medicine and their team seeks to identify characteristics of patients within nursing homes, as well as the nursing home environment itself, that are associated with contamination by vancomycin-resistant enterococci.

All About Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci, or VRE, are bacteria that are naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract and genitals that have developed resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin, which is used for a variety of infections, including MRSA, a serious type of bacteria resistant to several antibiotics.

Infection control procedures in settings such as nursing homes often focus on environmental cleaning and hand hygiene for clinicians and caregivers.

In a paper, published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity, the U-M study team investigated the transfer of drug resistant organisms between patients and their environments.


The team collected data from 245 participants, including swabs from various areas of the body including the hands, as well as samples from room surfaces, such as doorknobs, wheelchairs, toilet seats, bedside controls, etc.

The results suggest that more judicious use of antibiotics and education on hand hygiene for nursing home residents could improve the control of VRE within these settings and reduce the burden of infection.

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Source: Eurekalert


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