ACINETOBACTER INFECTION - Overview, Facts, Types, Symptoms, Etc.


One of the commonly-found bacteria in the environment like soil and water is Acinetobacter which can cause infections and a range of diseases. Acinetobacter baumannii is the most common cause of Acinetobacter infection and the most at risk of this infection are patients in a health care facility, those who have devices connected to the body such as catheters and ventilators, those who have undergone surgery, have been in the intensive care unit, and and those who have been staying in the hospital for a long time. Other risk factors may include a weak immune system and chronic diseases such as lung diseases and diabetes. The bacteria may spread through surfaces and equipment which are not properly sanitized. Contaminated hands may also allow person-to-person transmission.


Acinetobacter baumannii can cause different types of infection depending on how the bacteria entered the body. This includes infection in the:

  • Blood, when germs enters a catheter in the vein or when a previous infection spreads in the blood.
  • Lungs,when the germ enters the mouth or nose which has higher risks for patients who have been in the ICU or have used a ventilator which may cause pneumonia.
  • Urinary tract,when germs enters the body when urinating or through a catheter used when draining the urine. The germs infect the kidneys, ureters, or bladder causing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
  • Skin,when the germ infects an open skin or wound.
  • Brain or spinal cord, whengerms enters the body when undergoing surgery in the brain or spinal cord and may also be through a shunt in the head. The infection causes meningitis.



The symptoms of an Acinetobacter infection may include:

  • For blood infection: fever and chills, elevated lactic acid level, and rashes.
  • For lung infection: fever and chills, headache, breathing difficulty, chest and muscle pain, and cough.
  • For urinary tract infection: pain when urinating, foul-smelling urine, and string urges of frequent urination.
  • For skin or wound infection: redness, swelling, and pain in the affected skin or wound.
  • For brain or spinal cord infection: flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and nausea.


To learn more about the infection, the doctor conducts examinations which include:

  • Culture tests to determine the germs causing infections. It is performed using a blood, urine, or tissue sample.
  • X-ray to have an image of the lungs and heart and to look for signs of pneumonia or other types of infections.
  • Lumbar puncture to check for bleeding and infections in the spinal cord by extracting a sample of the fluid in the spinal cord.


The treatment depends on the location of the infection. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection but Acinetobacter bacteria have found ways to resist antibiotics and is now considered a serious public health threat since the bacteria no longer responds to multiple antibiotics designed to kill them. The doctor may prescribe more than one kind of antibiotic to be taken one at a time. Carbapenems are groups of antibiotics that will only be prescribed as a last resort to avoid developing further the resistance of the bacteria. The doctor may also change the prescriptions over time until the infection is treated. Pain killers and fever medicines may also be prescribed to combat pain and fever respectively.

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