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An Overview of Acinetobacter Bacteria

written by: •edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 12/30/2009

Acinetobacter bacteria are a hazard for hospital patients, especially military personnel who have been injured. Those who are being treated in the intensive care ward of the hospital and the severely ill are also at risk.

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    Acinetobacter bacteria are fairly common microbes that can be found in many parts of the environment. They are normally present in sewage, soil, and even water. Rather than being a single type of bacterium Acinetobacter is made up of over 25 varieties.

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    Acinetobacter: A Look at Bad Bacteria

    Acinetobacter bacteria can be an issue for people who have been admitted to hospital. Healthy people are not at high risk as the bacteria are generally considered to be nonpathogenic. However, a person who has sustained an injury may become infected by Acinobacter in and on dirt or debris. This type of bacteria can also be spread through person-to-person contact or via contact with contaminated surfaces.

    It's ironic to think that someone can be admitted to hospital for surgery or after an accident and be relatively healthy, only to develop an infection from these bad bacteria after being admitted. They can be difficult to treat, and the people who are most at risk are those who are in an intensive care ward, those who have sustained traumatic injuries, and those who are very ill.

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    Symptoms of Acinetobacter Bacteria Infection

    A person who has become infected with Acinetobacter bacteria may develop pneumonia-like symptoms. A person who is experiencing fever, chills and a cough with shortness of breath may be infected. Other signs of this bad bacterial infection are redness around a wound and the presence of pus. The patient may also have a fever.

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    Treating Acinetobacter Bacteria

    The difficulty that medical personnel have when an Acinetobacter infection occurs is that it can be resistant to antibiotics. The infections developed by hospital patients tend to be the most problematic. For example, a number of soldiers who were involved Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom developed an Acinetobacter infection that was multidrug resistant.

    The infection is treated with antibiotics. Medical personnel are encouraged to wash their hands before entering the room and again after leaving the treatment area. Staff that come into contact with patients infected with Acinetobacter bacteria are encouraged to wear gloves and gowns to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Being aware of the risk of developing an infection from these bad bacteria means that medical staff can be on the lookout for symptoms and start treatment promptly.