How Acinetobacter infection happens, symptoms and treatment

Acinetobacter corresponds to a genus of bacteria frequently associated with infections related to the health environment, the HAIs, being the main representative of this genus Acinetobacter baumannii , which in addition to being related to infections in the hospital environment also presents resistance to most of the antibiotics used, making the difficult treatment.

This bacterium is considered opportunistic because it causes diseases in people who have factors that favor its occurrences, such as the decreased activity of the immune system and prolonged length of stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The Acinetobacter sp. it can be found frequently on the skin, however, in hospitalized people, it is often identified in the throat and in respiratory tract secretions.

How the infection happens

Infection with Acinetobacter sp. it happens mainly in a hospital environment through contact with contaminated surfaces or through contact with another infected person, the hands being considered the main route of transmission and infection.

This type of infection is easier to happen in people who are hospitalized for long periods in the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), have skin wounds, have an impaired immune system, who breathe with the help of devices, or who have catheter, for example.

This is because the bacteria is capable of biofilm form in medical devices, which corresponds to a resistance mechanism in which the bacteria can stick to the surface of the device and multiply very effectively, making treatment difficult and leading to complications.

Thus, in a hospital environment, infection by Acinetobacter sp. it may also be related to medical devices used daily.

Symptoms of infection by Acinetobacter sp.

Symptoms of infection can vary depending on where the bacteria are and develops. Thus, if in the respiratory system, Acinetobacter sp. it can lead to the appearance of signs and symptoms of pneumonia, such as difficulty breathing, fever and chest pain.

When it is in the urinary system, it can result in the appearance of symptoms of urinary infection, such as pain and burning when urinating, frequent urge to go to the bathroom and cloudy urine. 

In people who have a more compromised immune system or who are hospitalized for a longer time, it is common for the bacteria to reach the bloodstream more easily and lead to the appearance of symptoms indicative of bacteremia, which corresponds to the presence of bacteria in the blood, there may be high and persistent fever, decreased blood pressure, nausea and dizziness. Here’s how to identify symptoms of blood infection.

Diagnosis of infection by Acinetobacter sp.

The diagnosis of infection by Acinetobacter sp . it is done in a hospital environment, since most people who have this infection are hospitalized, through the collection of a blood sample, tracheal secretion and / or urine, which is sent to the microbiology laboratory for analysis. .

The samples are processed and analyzed according to the macro and microscopic aspects of the bacterial colonies obtained after incubation at 37ºC, which is the ideal temperature for bacterial growth. Then, the bacteria are identified and the antibiogram is performed, in which the profile of the bacteria of sensitivity and resistance to antibiotics is verified, this information being important so that the doctor can indicate the most appropriate medicine for the person and is able to eliminate the bacteria. Understand how the antibiogram is made.

How to avoid and treat

Like Acinetobacter sp. it is multidrug-resistant, that is, it presents several resistance mechanisms against the antibiotics normally used, and they have the capacity to form biofilm, which is the bacterium’s ability to adhere to medical devices and multiply, treatment is difficult.

Therefore, the person who has been identified with infection by Acinetobacter sp. multiresistant must remain in the hospital in isolation and with contact precautions, at the same time as treatment with antibiotics is carried out that the bacterium is still sensitive, as this prevents the microorganism from spreading and other people from being contaminated.

To avoid infection, the main action to be taken is the correct washing of the hands, since the hands correspond to the main means of transmission of infections in the hospital environment. In addition, it is important not to use antibiotics without the doctor’s recommendation, as it can stimulate the development of antibiotic resistance, and, when in the hospital, avoid being close to patients who are in isolation or, if it is necessary to contact, wash hands before and after contact with the person and wear personal protective equipment. Learn more about how to avoid hospital infections.

Phage treatment

Phage treatment, also called phage therapy, is a type of treatment in which bacteriophages are used to fight infections that are difficult to treat mainly due to multidrug resistance to antibiotics. Bacteriophages, or simply phages, are viruses that have the ability to destroy bacteria and, therefore, their use in the treatment of multi-resistant infections can be effective.

Each bacteriophage is responsible for fighting one or a group of bacteria and, therefore, in the treatment of diseases, a specific cocktail of bacteriophages can be made to fight a given infection. Recently, phage therapy was effective in the treatment against multidrug- resistant Acinetobacter baumannii , in which bacteriophages were able to eliminate bacteria and thus fight infection and improve the person’s quality of life.

Despite being an old technique, treatment with bacteriophages has gained prominence in recent years due to a large amount of multi-resistant microorganisms. Learn more about bacteriophages.

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