Patients with severe COVID-19, who also had secondary infections in the bloodstream, were proven to be sicker with longer hospital stays and worse health outcomes, says a study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University in the US.

"These patients were more likely to have altered mental status, lower percent oxygen saturation, septic shock and to be admitted to the intensive care unit compared to those without bloodstream infections," said study co-lead author Pinki Bhatt from Rutgers University.

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The research, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, which may lead to new treatment strategies, is the first to assess the microbiology, risk factors, and outcomes in hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 and secondary bloodstream infections.

For the purpose around 375 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 from March to May 2020 were assessed, out of which 128 patients had secondary bloodstream infections – 92% of which were bacterial infections

Findings

According to the researchers, observations suggested that patients who needed more advanced types of supplemental oxygen upon hospital admission had higher odds of secondary bloodstream infections.

Scientists also believed that other infections in COVID-19 patients may have contributed to the severity of illness, or it may reflect other underlying physiological and immunological complications of COVID-19.

As far as the mortality rate is concerned, the researchers concluded that the in-hospital mortality rate for these patients was more than 50%.

They also added that these deaths were in no way directly associated to the pre-determined conditions but added to devaluation of their health in some way.

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The findings of the study also concluded that 80% of all the sample patients were administered antimicrobials at some point during hospitalisation, including those who did not have bloodstream infections.

"This likely reflects clinicians' inclination to give antimicrobials considering the limited information on the natural course of this novel disease," Bhatt said.

However, she weighed on the need to conduct further studies to get better understanding on when and how to suspect and treat secondary bloodstream infections in patients with COVID-19.