The Impact of COVID-19 on Complicated UTIs: Challenges and Multidrug Resistance


COVID-19 reshaped the landscape of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Explore the prevalence of resistant pathogens, the impact on infection prevention, and the changes in positive pathogens.

In this third mini podcast episode, Kim Leuthner, PharmD, FIDSA, an infectious disease clinical specialist at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, delves into an unexpected effect of COVID-19: urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Stewardship and infection prevention practices were disrupted during the pandemic, leading to challenges in isolating patients and facilitating the spread of organisms. Prolonged hospital stays and increased antibiotic exposure contributed to a higher risk of colonization and infection with multidrug-resistant bugs. Additionally, says Leuthner, the use of antibiotics increased, necessitating broader-spectrum therapies for longer durations.

However, there is hope that with the restoration of normal practices and improved infection prevention measures, these issues can be addressed.

The pathogens causing UTIs have remained relatively unchanged, primarily gram-negative bacteria like E coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae from gastrointestinal flora. The major difference is the prevalence of resistant pathogens due to increased antibiotic use during the pandemic, Leuthner explains.

Nevertheless, multidrug-resistant gram-negatives have become more problematic in healthcare settings. The prolonged hospitalizations and multiple infections associated with COVID-19 contributed to higher antibiotic usage, enabling the persistence of resistant pathogens.

This is part 3 of a mini podcast series with Kim Leuthner, PharmD, FIDSA. Click here for part 1, in which Leuthner breaks down what makes a UTI complicated and highlights the patients most at risk.

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