Published: 27th August 2020
Dialysis patients at greater risk of COVID-19 infection, says a John Hopkins study
The researchers reported that 15 of the 32 residents (47 per cent) on dialysis tested positive while only 22 of the other 138 residents (16 per cent) did
It's a widely known fact that COVID-19 can spread rapidly among residents in nursing homes and now, Johns Hopkins study shows people receiving hemodialysis for chronic kidney disease may be at even greater risk for infection from the virus.
For the study, published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, investigated an outbreak of COVID-19 that occurred in April 2020 in a 200-bed Maryland nursing home with an independently operated, on-site hemodialysis centre.
"Based on our results, we believe that nursing home residents undergoing dialysis are more likely than others in a facility to have repeated and prolonged exposures to the SARS-CoV-2 virus," said study lead author Benjamin Bigelow from Johns Hopkins University in the US. "Therefore, they may be at greater risk of infection and subsequent COVID-19," Bigelow added.
According to the researchers, of the 170 residents at the facility, 32 received dialysis treatment between April 16 and April 30. By the end of the study period, testing for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 was conducted on all but three of the residents (they refused and were counted as negative).
The researchers reported that 15 of the 32 residents (47 per cent) on dialysis tested positive while only 22 of the other 138 residents (16 per cent) did.
"Our study suggests that homes and dialysis centres need to maintain clear and constant communication to improve infection prevention practices throughout the process of transporting residents to dialysis and during the dialysis itself," said researchers.
Residents who undergo dialysis should be carefully monitored, and testing prioritization must account for any contact with dialysis staff who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the study authors wrote.
"Identifying cases early, along with aggressive infection prevention and control, are the keys to protecting those in nursing homes with chronic kidney disease and who are most at risk during the pandemic," they noted.