Multidrug-Resistant Organisms Are on the Rise in Europe

Two studies from the Netherlands and Germany exhibit that multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) have increased in certain refugees and hospitals from Ukraine since March 2022, following the Russian invasion.

The Netherlands is a place with generally a low pervasiveness of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO). Patients admitted to hospitals in the Netherlands are carefully screened for infections, such as by isolating questionable patients. Since March 2022, however, hospitals have been fighting with a high case of MDROs with patients fleeing from Ukraine.

With many Ukrainian patients fleeing to neighboring countries for their safety, the increased case of MDROs followed. Amidst the rise of MDROs were bacteria-suppressing carbapenemase-producing New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) genes, which grant resistance to many antibiotics.

Beginning in March 2022, the migration from Ukraine to neighboring countries brought more than a thousand patients from the war-torn country's hospitals. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) then suggested isolating patients arriving from Ukraine, or those with some history of hospital admission in Ukraine in the past 12 months. All patients were screened for MDROs. Ukraine had a high prevalence of MDROs between 2014 and 2021, per the Ukrainian military and general hospitals.

The research study, provided by Eurosurveillance, advises that medical professionals in European countries stay vigilant of such microorganisms when handling patients from Ukraine. If treating Ukraine patients, medical professionals should be extra careful and secure infection prevention and control (IPC) measures to avoid the spread of pathogens.

The study found that a high number of MDROs were detected in patients from Ukraine in the Netherlands. Of those, about half of the patients were hospitalized recently in Ukraine, and 11 patients carried multiple MDROs.

To give medical professionals therapeutic choices for treating infections with Gram-negative bacteria generating carbapenemase in patients from Ukraine, more phenotypic resistance patterns of these MDROs must be identified, including novel antibiotic combinations. When caring for hospitalized patients from Ukraine, healthcare workers should be aware of the potential presence of these microorganisms and take the necessary infection control precautions to stop the spread of these MDROs.

What are MDROs?

Multidrug-resistant organisms, or MDROs, are organisms that prevent us from fighting certain illnesses by contributing resistance to multiple antibiotics or antifungals. With such dangerous organisms, it can be strenuous to treat certain diseases, often leading to severe illness or death.

In 2019, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that MDROs caused 2,868,700 infections and 35,900 deaths. Some common pathogens that can lead to severe diseases or even death include Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacterales (CRE), Carbapenem-Resistant Acinetobacter, Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida Auris. In 2017, around 32,600 individuals were hospitalized for Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa which caused 2,700 deaths. If affected by MDROs, it is crucial to take specific steps given by healthcare professionals.

How do antibiotics work?

Antibiotics are a type of medicine prevalently used across the world to treat bacterial infections or diseases. First developed in the 1940s and 50s, antibiotics do wonders when treating bacterial infections. They work by obstructing the dynamic processes in bacteria. Antibiotics either kill or block them from spreading, allowing our body to heal and return to our natural immune system.

Some antibiotics can handle a variety of bacteria, referred to as broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and gentamicin. The ladder-type only targets a few types of bacteria, referred to as narrow-spectrum antibiotics, such as penicillin.

Antibiotics are usually not prescribed to treat the common cold or flu, but rather bacterial infections such as a urinary tract infection or strep throat. Occasionally those with a common cold or the flu may need to have antibiotics prescribed. For example, if it leads to severe bacterial infections or a severely weakened immune system with poor health or age.

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