UTIs are becoming more deadly, thanks to AMR — CSIRO


Wednesday, 06 April, 2022

UTIs are becoming more deadly, thanks to AMR — CSIRO

The spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the community is increasing the risk of death for common infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) — which affect around one in two women and one in 20 men in their lifetime. This is according to a new study led by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

The collaborative research project, involving QUT and the University of Queensland, analysed data from 21,268 patients across 134 Queensland hospitals who acquired their infections in the community. It found patients were almost two and a half times more likely to die from community acquired drug-resistant UTIs caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and more than three times more likely to die from community acquired drug-resistant blood stream infections caused by Enterobacteriaceae than those with drug-sensitive infections.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Teresa Wozniak said the high prevalence of UTIs makes them a major contributor to antibiotic use in Australia. Our study found patients who contracted drug-resistant UTIs in the community were more than twice as likely to die from the infection in hospital compared to those without resistant bacteria, Dr Wozniak said.

“Without effective antibiotics, many standard medical procedures and life-saving surgeries will becoming increasingly life-threatening.

“Tracking the burden of drug-resistant infections in the community is critical to understanding how far antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is spreading and how best to mitigate it.”

The CEO of CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre, Dr David Hansen, said the magnitude of the AMR problem needs to be understood to mitigate it.

“Tracking community resistance is difficult because it involves not just one pathogen or disease but multiple strains of bacteria,” Dr Hansen said.

“Until now we haven’t been using the best data to support decision-making in our fight against AMR. Data on community acquired resistance is a significant missing piece of the puzzle.

“Digital health has an important role in using big datasets to describe patterns of disease and drive important population health outcomes.”

CSIRO is conducting further research to understand the clinical implications of AMR, its health and economic burden, and improving surveillance of AMR in blind spots like rural and remote communities.

The study’s findings will provide further guidance for managing AMR in the community, such as developing AMR stewardship programs that draw on data from the population being treated.

Here are some simple ways to help reduce AMR:

  • Wash your hands: Bacteria live on skin and on objects. Good hand hygiene is an inexpensive and simple way to prevent all types of bacteria, including AMR bacteria, from spreading.
  • Keep your environment clean: This doesn’t just apply to places like hospitals. Keeping the home clean — and even taking your shoes off before you walk inside — can help reduce the spread of harmful bacteria from the environment.
  • Use good food preparation hygiene: Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Food is often exposed to bacteria via transportation, packaging and presentation. You can reduce the risk of ingesting resistant bacteria someone may have left on your apple when they touched it in the store by washing it before eating.
  • Don’t misuse antibiotics and properly dispose of unused antibiotics: Take antibiotics only when appropriate and necessary. Follow the instructions on the packet. Don’t use other people’s antibiotics. If you have any antibiotics left over, do not put them in the bin or the drain. Instead, dispose of them at your local pharmacy.
     

Image caption: CSIRO research scientist Dr Teresa Wozniak. Credit: CSIRO.

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