A recent study conducted in Adelaide, Australia, has unveiled concerning evidence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in aged care and retirement homes. The research, led by Associate Professor Rietie Venter from the University of South Australia, examined wastewater samples from several facilities, revealing alarming levels of bacterial resistance to common antibiotics. One facility displayed high resistance to ceftazidime, cefepime, and ciprofloxacin, while another had elevated levels of gentamicin resistance, posing significant health risks to residents who rely on these antibiotics to treat various infections.
University of South Australia microbiologist, Associate Professor Rietie Venter, who led the study, says AMR is a concerning trend in aged care facilities.
“Antimicrobial resistance is projected to lead to 300 million deaths worldwide by 2060, and aged care residents are among the most vulnerable due to frequent, inappropriate use of medicines,” Assoc Prof Venter said.
The study, which focused on three sites and 300 residents, suggests a broader issue, emphasising the urgent need for stricter medication use policies in aged care facilities.
Monitoring antibiotic misuse and overuse in these settings is challenging, making wastewater-based surveillance a novel approach to addressing the problem. Despite overall stable resistance rates, some antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone and fluoroquinolones, show increasing resistance. These drugs are commonly used in aged care despite clinical guidelines recommending them as last-resort options.
The study underscores the necessity for ongoing surveillance in residential aged care facilities to combat AMR effectively, especially given the ageing population, which heightens the risk. It emphasises the importance of mitigating AMR threats to safeguard the health and well-being of vulnerable residents.