Endemic to the hospital environment, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a leading bacterial pathogen that causes deadly infections such as bacteremia and endocarditis. In past viral pandemics, it has been the principal cause of secondary bacterial infections, significantly increasing patient mortality rates. Our world now combats the rapid spread of COVID-19, leading to a pandemic with a death toll greatly surpassing those of many past pandemics. However, the impact of co-infection with S. aureus remains unclear. Adalbert, et al. (2021) aimed to perform a high-quality scoping review of the literature to synthesize the existing evidence on the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 and S. aureus co-infection.
A scoping review of the literature was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, ScienceDirect, medRxiv, and the WHO COVID-19 database using a combination of terms. Articles that were in English, included patients infected with both COVID-19 and S. aureus, and provided a description of clinical outcomes for patients were eligible. From these articles, the following data were extracted: type of staphylococcal species, onset of co-infection, patient sex, age, symptoms, hospital interventions, and clinical outcomes. Quality assessments of final studies were also conducted using the Joanna Briggs Institute’s critical appraisal tools.
Searches generated a total of 1,922 publications, and 28 articles were eligible for the final analysis. Of the 115 co-infected patients, there were a total of 71 deaths (61.7%) and 41 discharges (35.7%), with 62 patients (53.9%) requiring ICU admission. Patients were infected with methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant strains of S. aureus, with the majority (76.5%) acquiring co-infection with S. aureus following hospital admission for COVID-19. Aside from antibiotics, the most commonly reported hospital interventions were intubation with mechanical ventilation (74.8 %), central venous catheter (19.1 %), and corticosteroids (13.0 %).
Given the mortality rates reported thus far for patients co-infected with S. aureus and COVID-19, the researchers say COVID-19 vaccination and outpatient treatment may be key initiatives for reducing hospital admission and S. aureus co-infection risk. Physician vigilance is recommended during COVID-19 interventions that may increase the risk of bacterial co-infection with pathogens, such as S. aureus, as the medical community’s understanding of these infection processes continues to evolve.
Reference: Adalbert JR, et al. Clinical outcomes in patients co-infected with COVID-19 and Staphylococcus aureus: a scoping review. BMC Infectious Diseases. Vol. 21, article number 985. (2021).