Colonization of residents and staff of a long-term-care facility and adjacent acute-care hospital geriatric unit by multiresistant bacteria


Corresponding author and reprint requests: D. M. Livermore, Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring and Reference Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections, 61, Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK


Clin Microbiol Infect 2010; 16: 934–944


Long-term-care facilities (LTCFs) are reservoirs of resistant bacteria. We undertook a point-prevalence survey and risk factor analysis for specific resistance types among residents and staff of a Bolzano LTCF and among geriatric unit patients in the associated acute-care hospital. Urine samples and rectal, inguinal, oropharyngeal and nasal swabs were plated on chromogenic agar; isolates were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; resistance genes and links to insertion sequences were sought by PCR; plasmids were analysed by PCR, restriction fragment length polymorphism and incompatibility grouping. Demographic data were collected. Of the LTCF residents, 74.8% were colonized with ≥1 resistant organism, 64% with extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producers, 38.7% with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), 6.3% with metallo-β-lactamase (MBL) producers, and 2.7% with vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Corresponding rates for LTCF staff were 27.5%, 14.5%, 14.5%, 1.5% and 0%, respectively. Colonization frequencies for geriatric unit patients were lower than for those in the LTCF. Both clonal spread and plasmid transfer were implicated in the dissemination of MBL producers that harboured IncN plasmids bearing blaVIM-1, qnrS, and blaSHV-12. Most (44/45) ESBL-producing Escherichia coli isolates had blaCTX-M genes of group 1; a few had blaCTX-M genes of group 9 or blaSHV-5; those with blaCTX-M-15 or blaSHV-5 were clonal. Risk factors for colonization of LTCF residents with resistant bacteria included age ≥86 years, antibiotic treatment in the previous 3 months, indwelling devices, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, physical disability, and the particular LTCF unit; those for geriatric unit patients were age and dementia. In conclusion, ESBL-producing and MBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae and MRSA were prevalent among the LTCF residents and staff, but less so in the hospital geriatric unit. Education of LTCF employees and better infection control are proposed to minimize the spread of resistant bacteria in the facility.