Seasonal and Temperature-Associated Increases in Gram-Negative Bacterial Bloodstream Infections Among Hospitalized Patients

Researchers from Extending the Cure report finding increases in infections caused by certain kinds of bacteria that occurred in July, August and September, times when warm temperatures outside might allow such “bugs” to thrive and trigger infections in vulnerable hospital patients.

The research team looked at more than 200,000 bloodstream infections reported by 132 hospitals across the United States. They discovered a 52 percent summer spike in bloodstream infections caused by Acinetobacter baumannii, a lethal microbe resistant to multiple antibiotics; a 12 percent spike in infections caused by Escherichia coli; and a 29 percent upswing in infections linked to Klebsiella pneumoniae.

The findings raise the worry that as global warming kicks in and temperatures increase, these kinds of microbes could begin to proliferate—and set off outbreaks in hospitals already faced with a growing army of resistant “superbugs,” according to the study which appeared September 26 in the online scientific journal PLoS One.

This study was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support to Extending the Cure, a research and consultative effort that examines incentive-based policy solutions to curb antibiotic resistance based on the understanding that antibiotics are a shared resource that must be conserved. The project is based at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C.