It is probably safe to say that people outside of medicine have never heard of this bacteria. But anybody who is going into the hospital or who has a loved one there right now should know about it. Experts in the United States think this bacteria is on the brink of becoming the next drug-resistant infection epidemic. It is already a serious
problem in hospitals in Israel and Central and South America.
Experts say the threat is primarily on three fronts: the overall incidence (even for drug sensitive strains) is rising; incidence for the drug resistant strains is rising; and it seems to particularly infect patients who are immunosuppressed or who have been hospitalized in the intensive care unit for long periods of time.
Acinetobacter is a gram-negative bacteria that can infect almost any tissue. The most common infections are pneumonia, blood stream, urinary trat, skin and soft tissue, and wound infections. Some strains are resistant to every known class of antibiotics and infection can carry a mortality rate as high as 50%.
Perhaps the most ominous characteristic of Acinetobacter is that it is easily transmitted person-to-person. Once the bacteria is established in an intensive care unit or hospital, it is extremely difficult to eradicate.
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