Superbug infections rising rapidly and spreading silently in kids
Looking over records from 48 children’s hospitals around the country, the researchers picked out 107,610 hospital stays (involving 94,528 different patients from infants to less than 18) that included a diagnoses of an Enterobacteriaceae infection. Most of them were urinary tract infections caused by E. coli.
Overall, just 724 of those infections were caused by bacteria that could survive multiple types of antibiotic treatments. That’s just 0.7 percent of the infections. But the proportion increased over time. In 2007, only 0.2 percent of infections were multidrug-resistant. By 2015, the percentage hit 1.5—that’s a 750 percent increase.
Kids with a multidrug-resistant infection had 20 percent longer stays in the hospital, the researchers noted.
But most kids didn’t become infected while they were in the hospital, where drug-resistant bacteria are known to develop and lurk among the vulnerable. Instead, 551 of the 724 multidrug-resistant infections—or 76 percent—were present in kids when they arrived at the hospital. This suggests that they became infected out in the community.
“Once these organisms are in the community, they will spread,” Meropol said. “We can catch them anywhere.”