Two major research projects will investigate the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in aged care and inform future strategies and risk assessment.
So-called “superbug” infections are an increasing problem worldwide that can leave healthcare professionals with limited or no available treatment options.
The projects are being funded by Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund under the Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance program, Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced on Friday.
He said the close living proximity of residents, multiple medical conditions, poor immune systems and frequent transfer of residents to and from hospitals all contributed to the high use of antibiotics and heightened risk of infection, including from drug-resistant bacteria.
The projects aim to increase understanding of how antimicrobial resistance is transmitted and spread in aged care facilities.
Associate Professor Geraint Rogers from the South Australian Medical Research Institute received a $1.4 million grant to lead a project analysing samples from 400 residents across 10 aged care facilities.
The research aims to determine the different modes of transmission of resistant bacteria and inform future strategies to limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance in facilities.
In the second project, led Dr Henrietta Venter of the University of South Australia, researchers will measure the spread of resistant bacteria, including in wastewater, from three aged care facilities with a $1.1 million grant.
This study will inform antimicrobial resistance risk assessments and guide future policy controls to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance to, within and from aged care facilities.
Mr Wyatt said recent data highlighted the need for improved antimicrobial management in aged care. Despite some progress since the release of Australia’s Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy in 2015, there were still significant gaps in the understanding of superbugs in facilities, he said.
These studies will help to understand the spread of infections within aged care, and between these facilities, hospitals and other settings, he said.
The MRFF is a long term source of funding for research and innovation to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.
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