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To assess the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) reported from 128 acute-care and 132 long-term care Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.
We compared central-line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), ventilator-associated events (VAEs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridioides difficile infections and rates reported from each facility monthly to a centralized database before the pandemic (February 2019 through January 2020) and during the pandemic (July 2020 through June 2021).
Nationwide VA COVID-19 admissions peaked in January 2021. Significant increases in the rates of CLABSIs, VAEs, and MRSA all-site HAIs (but not MRSA CLABSIs) were observed during the pandemic in acute-care facilities. There was no significant change in CAUTI rates, and C. difficile rates significantly decreased. There were no significant increases in HAIs in long-term care facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a differential impact on HAIs of various types in VA acute care, with many rates increasing. The decrease in CDI HAIs may be due, in part, to evolving diagnostic testing. The minimal impact of COVID-19 in VA long-term facilities may reflect differences in patient numbers and acuity and early recognition of the impact of the pandemic on nursing home residents leading to increased vigilance and optimization of infection prevention and control practices in that setting. These data support the need for building and sustaining conventional infection prevention and control strategies before and during a pandemic.
Hospital-acquired Legionella pneumonia has a fatality rate of 28%, and the source is the water distribution system. Two prevention strategies have been advocated. One approach to prevention is clinical surveillance for disease without routine environmental monitoring. Another approach recommends environmental monitoring even in the absence of known cases of Legionella pneumonia. We determined the Legionella colonization status of water systems in hospitals to establish whether the results of environmental surveillance correlated with discovery of disease. None of these hospitals had previously experienced endemic hospital-acquired Legionella pneumonia.
Twenty US hospitals in 13 states.
Hospitals performed clinical and environmental surveillance for Legionella from 2000 through 2002. All specimens were shipped to the Special Pathogens Laboratory at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Legionella pneumophila and Legionella anisa were isolated from 14 (70%) of 20 hospital water systems. Of 676 environmental samples, 198 (29%) were positive for Legionella species. High-level colonization of the water system (30% or more of the distal outlets were positive for L. pneumophila) was demonstrated for 6 (43%) of the 14 hospitals with positive findings. L. pneumophila serogroup 1 was detected in 5 of these 6 hospitals, whereas 1 hospital was colonized with L. pneumophila serogroup 5. A total of 633 patients were evaluated for Legionella pneumonia from 12 (60%) of the 20 hospitals: 377 by urinary antigen testing and 577 by sputum culture. Hospital-acquired Legionella pneumonia was identified in 4 hospitals, all of which were hospitals with L. pneumophila serogroup 1 found in 30% or more of the distal outlets. No cases of disease due to other serogroups or species (L. anisa) were identified.
Environmental monitoring followed by clinical surveillance was successful in uncovering previously unrecognized cases of hospital-acquired Legionella pneumonia.
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