“We saw a bloom in Candida auris,” said Dr. Rubin, who attributed the change to a handful of factors, particularly the challenges in testing for germs when so much testing resources went towards Covid-19.
Harmful drug-resistant bacteria are also emerging, including carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, what is taken into account an “urgent health threat” of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In December, the C.D.C. reported a group of Acinetobacter baumannii during a surge in Covid-19 patients in a New Jersey urban hospital with about 500 beds. The hospital was not identified. And hospitals in Italy and Peru saw the spread of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae.
In recognition of the problem, three major medical societies sent one letter on Dec. 28 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, calling for a temporary suspension of regulations that tie reimbursement rates to hospital-acquired infections. The three groups – the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, and the Association for Infection Control and Epidemiology – feared that infection rates might have increased due to Covid-19.
“The staff, care, foster care and standard patient care practices have all changed during this extraordinary time,” the letter reads.
Not all types of drug-resistant infections have increased. For example, some research shows no particular change in the rate of hospital patients acquiring the bacterium Clostridioides difficile during the pandemic – a finding that suggests that the pandemic as a whole has long-term effects on these infections is not yet clear.
Dr. Huang and other experts said they are not claiming the priority in fighting Covid-19 was wrong. Rather, they say that drug-resistant germs need renewed attention. Previous research showed that 65 percent of nursing home residents have some form of drug-resistant infection.
Over the years, critics have alleged that hospitals, and especially nursing homes, have been negligent in their efforts to combat these infections because of the cost of disinfecting equipment, training staff, isolating infected patients, and checking for germs.