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Transmission of SARS – Linked to Dialysis?

Angie SzumlinskiHealth, Studies

On August 11, 2020, a report “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Involving Residents Receiving Dialysis in a Nursing Home – Maryland, April 2020” was posted online as an MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) Early Release.

Residents of long-term care facilities have high COVID-19 associated morbidity and mortality. More information is needed about SARS-CoV-2 introduction and transmission in nursing homes. An investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Maryland nursing home identified a significantly higher prevalence among residents receiving dialysis (47%) than among those not receiving dialysis (16%); 72% were asymptomatic at the time of testing.

What are the implications for public health practice? Nursing home residents undergoing dialysis might be at a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection because of exposures to staff members and community dialysis patients. Attention to infection control practices and surveillance in nursing homes and dialysis centers is critical to preventing nursing home COVID-19 outbreaks.

Although the study was not without limitations, it is something that we should all be thinking about. The resident who goes to dialysis 3 times a week is exposed to staff assisting with the transfer, the driver of the transport vehicle, the staff at the dialysis center, other patients at the dialysis center, and anyone accompanying them. It is no wonder that we should be taking a closer look at how we are managing residents who leave our center with a return anticipated. Please be safe, do the right things, and respect resident rights; however those rights extend to all residents so when in doubt, isolate! Stay well, stay safe and stay tuned!