Acinetobacter in Healthcare Settings
General information about Acinetobacter
Acinetobacter [asz−in−ée−toe–back−ter] is a group of bacteria commonly found in soil and water. While there are many types or “species” of Acinetobacter and all can cause human disease, Acinetobacter baumannii [asz−in−ée−toe–back−ter boe-maa-nee-ie] 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.
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. Acinetobacter may also “colonize” or live in a patient without causing infection or symptoms, especially in tracheostomy sites or open wounds.
Transmission of 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, those who have open wounds, or any person with invasive devices like urinary catheters are also at greater risk for Acinetobacter infection. Acinetobacter can be spread to susceptible persons by person-to-person contact or contact with contaminated surfaces.
Prevention of Acinetobacter infection
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.
Treatment of Acinetobacter infection
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 ill patients and can either cause or contribute to death in these patients.
Recommendations and Guidelines
For more information about prevention and treatment of HAIs, see the resources below:
- Rutala WA, Weber DJ, the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008
- Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, et al. the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings, 2007
- Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, et al. The Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms In Healthcare Settings, 2006
- Guideline for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities, 2003 [PDF - 1.4 MB]
- CDC. Boyce JM, Pittet D. the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings, 2002
Guideline, Fact sheet and special materials to promote Hand Hygiene in healthcare facilities