American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) adults ≥65 years of age (older adults) have the second highest age group-specific infectious disease (ID) hospitalization rate. To assess morbidity and disparities of IDs for older AI/AN adults, this study examined the epidemiology of overall and specific infectious disease hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults.
ID hospitalization data for older AI/AN adults were analyzed by using Indian Health Service hospital discharge data for 1990 through 2002 and comparing it with published findings for the general U.S. population of older adults.
ID hospitalizations accounted for 23% of all hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults. The average annual ID hospitalization rate increased 5% for 1990–1992 to 2000–2002; however, the rate increased more than 20% in the Alaska and the Southwest regions. The rate for older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest region was greater than that for the older U.S. adult population. For 2000–2002, lower respiratory tract infections accounted for almost half of all ID hospitalizations followed by kidney, urinary tract, and bladder infections, and cellulitis.
The ID hospitalization rate increased among older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest and Alaska regions, and the rate for the older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest region was higher than that for the U.S. general population. Prevention measures should focus on ways to reduce ID hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults, particularly those living in the Southwest and Alaska regions.