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IDSA: Infection Rates in Nursing Homes on the Rise

Researchers note problem will only worsen with aging baby boomers

THURSDAY, Oct. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Infection rates within U.S. nursing homes are on the rise, and that trend will continue until better hygiene practices are put in place, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDWeek), held from Oct. 8 to 12 in Philadelphia.

"Infections are a leading cause of deaths and complications for nursing home residents and, with the exception of tuberculosis, we found a significant increase in infection rates across the board," study author Carolyn Herzig, of the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City, said in a school news release.

Her team analyzed data submitted by nursing homes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services between 2006 and 2010. They found rising rates of pneumonia, urinary tract infections, viral hepatitis, septicemia, wound infections, and multiple drug-resistant bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Urinary tract infections and pneumonia were the most common, but the 48 percent rise in viral hepatitis was the largest over the five years. Multiple drug-resistant bacterial infections increased 18 percent, pneumonia rose 11 percent, and there was a 1 percent rise in urinary tract infections.

"Unless we can improve infection prevention and control in nursing homes, this problem is only going to get worse as the baby boomers age and people are able to live longer with increasingly complex, chronic diseases," Herzig said.

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