Increased Focus on Infection Prevention Pays Off

Maureen Vowles: “I think that the relationship between infection preventionists and public health is key to the success of preventing CRAB and other multi-drug resistant organisms.”

Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) is not much seen in the United States now, but it has begun to emerge as a deadly pathogen where it does strike, with a 55% mortality rate and an ability to resist most antibiotics thrown its way. Whenever and wherever it strikes in the US, healthcare officials take notice and take no chances. CRAB invaded a skilled nursing facility in February 2018 and both the Utah Department of Health and the CDC were all over it. One of those involved was Maureen Vowles, an epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health. Vowles and co-authors wrote a study explaining how they handled the outbreak that was published in the American Journal of Infection Control earlier this year. Recently, Vowles sat down with Infection Control Today® to discuss her experience and the challenges of preventing infections from Superbugs in general. “Our whole team [at the Utah Department of Health] looks very different to how it did in March or April of this year,” says Vowles. “I think we probably added about 10 people in various roles to help with the COVID response. That includes infection preventionists, epidemiologists, and health educators. I am hoping that this will stick around after COVID and that we’ll be able to have that increased infection control focus with [long-term care] facilities. I think it’s a win-win situation to have that focus.”