What is Acinetobacter?
Acinetobacter (ass in ee toe back ter) is a group of bacteria commonly found in soil and water. It can also be found on the skin of healthy people, especially healthcare personnel. While there are many types or “species” of Acinetobacter and all can cause human disease, Acinetobacter baumannii accounts for about 80% of reported infections.
Outbreaks of Acinetobacter infections typically occur in intensive care units and healthcare settings housing very ill patients. Acinetobacter infections rarely occur outside of healthcare settings.
What are the symptoms of Acinetobacter infection?
Acinetobacter causes a variety of diseases, ranging from pneumonia to serious blood or wound infections and the symptoms vary depending on the disease. Typical symptoms of pneumonia could include fever, chills, or cough. Acinetobacter may also “colonize” or live in a patient without causing infection or symptoms, especially in tracheostomy sites or open wounds.
How do people get Acinetobacter infection?
Acinetobacter poses very little risk to healthy people. However, people who have weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease, or diabetes may be more susceptible to infections with Acinetobacter. Hospitalized patients, especially very ill patients on a ventilator, those with a prolonged hospital stay, or those who have open wounds, are also at greater risk for Acinetobacter infection. Acinetobactercan be spread to susceptible persons by person-to-person contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, or exposure in the environment.
How is Acinetobacter infection treated?
Acinetobacter is often resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics. Decisions on treatment of infections with Acinetobacter should be made on a case-by-case basis by a healthcare provider. Acinetobacter infection typically occurs in very ill patients and can either cause or contribute to death in these patients.
What should I do to prevent the spread of Acinetobacter infection to others?
Acinetobacter can live on the skin and may survive in the environment for several days. Careful attention to infection control procedures such as hand hygiene and environmental cleaning can reduce the risk of transmission.