• Resistance to antibiotics poses limited treatment alternatives for patients with certain bacterial infections.
• Sylvia Omulo, the lead researcher of the Kenyan studies, said bacteria has the potential to cause infections that are untreatable.
A new study shows patients admitted in hospitals for more than three days are likely to become resistant to some antibiotics.
A study by Washington State University showed patients who stay in hospitals for over three days have an increased likelihood of carrying a strain of bacteria that is resistant to a commonly prescribed group of antibiotics.
The study team discovered that 66 percent of patients admitted to hospitals in Kenya were infected with bacteria resistant to third-generation antibiotics.
According to the study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, third-generation cephalosporins antibiotics are usually administered for severe infections.
The resistance to these antibiotics poses restricted treatment alternatives for patients with certain bacterial infections.
The lead researcher was Sylvia Omulo, an assistant professor at WSU's Paul G. Allen School for Global Health.
She said the Kenyan studies show the bacteria have the potential to cause infections that are untreatable.
Omulo emphasised the importance of surveillance to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors contributing to the coloniaation of these bacteria and their subsequent resistance to specific antibiotics.
Through an analysis of health records pertaining to [unidentified] Kenyan hospital patients harbouring cephalosporin-resistant bacteria, the researchers identified three key risk factors linked to colonisation.
They include prolonged hospitalisation exceeding three days, which was associated with a 132 percent increased risk, followed by intubation, which demonstrated a 73 percent increased risk.
Additionally, individuals with a positive HIV status exhibited a 70 percent increased risk of colonisation with cephalosporin-resistant bacteria.
The study was conducted to ascertain the prevalence of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.
It was further aimed at identifying the factors that contribute to the colonisation of individuals with bacteria that are resistant to crucial and commonly prescribed antibiotics.
In a study conducted in Kenyan communities, it was observed the probability of being colonised by cephalosporin-resistant bacteria increased by 12 percent with each visit to hospitals and clinics.
In addition, individuals who raised poultry were found to be 57 percent more likely to have the resistant bacteria.
Previous and ongoing research in both Kenya and Guatemala further showed the significance of bacterial transmission resulting from inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices in health facilities.
It remains unclear whether contact with the healthcare system serves as a source of transmission for these bacteria or if individuals seeking medical care are inherently more prone to harboring them.
Professor Douglas Call, who was the corresponding author for the publication, said individuals who have interactions with the healthcare system are more likely to carry these bacteria, but the underlying reasons are still unknown.
“To distinguish between causation and correlation, we require longitudinal tracking of the same individuals over time, along with documenting how their colonisation status changes with different behaviours. Studies to address these questions are currently being established and will be conducted in the upcoming year,” Call said.
The research was carried out in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University del Valle de Guatemala, the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).
CDC funded for the study, which is part of the larger Antimicrobial Resistance in Communities and Hospitals (Arch) study partnership, encompassing research projects in six countries.