When Tom Patterson started vomiting during an Egyptian holiday he thought he had food poisoning. He was wrong. In fact he was infected with an antibiotic-resistant superbug and only his wife's determination and a revolutionary new treatment would save him. Tom was the first person in North America to receive intravenous phage therapy to treat a systematic superbug infection. Steffanie recognises how lucky they were, and how much depended on her connections, which enabled her to launch the international effort to save her husband.
The antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacterium is one of the most globally harmful bacteria that causes nosocomial infections. Researchers have discovered that the bacterium attaches to plastic medical devices using tiny finger-like structures. The researchers were able to develop antibodies that prevent the bacterial spread.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a pathogen that creates serious problems in hospitals throughout the world. It causes opportunistic infections in the bloodstream, urinary tract, and other soft tissues, accounting for as much as 20 percent of infections spread in Intensive Care Units. As one of the pathogens involved in many multidrug-resistant infections caught in hospitals, it was top of the highest priority "Critical" group of antibiotic-resistant pathogens the World Health Organization rated in 2017 as needing further research.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a well known but relatively uncommon cause of health-care--associated infections. Because the organism has developed substantial antimicrobial resistance, treatment of infections attributed to A. baumannii has become increasingly difficult.
Because MRSA is a Gram-positive, we don't talk much here about the Gram-negatives — the two categories of bacteria have different cell-wall structures and thus are treated using different categories of drugs. (That structural difference causes them to react in different ways to a stain invented by a scientist named Gram in the 19th century.) But the resistance situation with Gram-negatives is at least as dire as with MRSA, possible more so, because there are fewer new drugs for Gram-negatives in the pharmacology pipeline (as discussed in a New Yorker article by Dr. Jerome Groopman last year.)
We looked at another multidrug and even pan-drug antibiotic resistance organism called Acinetobacter baumannii, which causes many types of severe infections in the lungs, blood and skin, and a non-drug-resistant bacterium, Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera. V. cholera also has some natural antibiotic resistance genes.
Along with coauthors Drs John Mekalanos and Stephen Lory at Harvard Medical School, we found that for A. baumannii and V. cholerae, the loss of antibiotic resistance was associated with loss of fitness and a weakened ability to cause infection.
But, when the bacteria acquired antibiotic resistance through a genetic mutation, they became more virulent
Gram-negative bacteria like acinetobacter are thriving in clinical environments, causing infections that are currently untreatable with any conventional drugs.
Emergence and spread of Acinetobacter species, resistant to most of the available antimicrobial agents, is an area of great concern. It is now being frequently associated with healthcare associated infections.
In the taxonomy of bad bugs, acinetobacter is classified as an opportunistic pathogen. Healthy people can carry the bacteria on their skin with no ill effects – a process known as colonization. But in newborns, the elderly, burn victims, patients with depressed immune systems, and those on ventilators, acinetobacter infections can kill. The removal of Gadsden's spleen and the traumatic nature of his wounds made him a prime target.
Doctors worry not only about soldiers who are already infected but also those who are carrying Acinetobacter on their skin even though they themselves are not infected.
The three most critical bacteria, if you're collecting their trading cards, are Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacteriaceae (which includes bugs you've probably heard of like Salmonella and E. coli). All three are resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics, which are considered the last line of treatment to stop an infection. The Enterobacteriaceae are also resistant to the newest generation of cephalosporin antibiotics.
In the all-star annals of resistant bugs, A. baumanii is an underappreciated player. If people – other than, you know, disease geeks – recognize it, that is because it's become known in the past few years for its propensity to attack wounded veterans shipped to military hospitals from Iraq and Afghanistan, earning it the nickname "Iraqibacter."
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The International Symposium on the Biology of Acinetobacter brings together medical and non-medical microbiologists as well as clinicians from all over the world to discuss the recent advances in Acinetobacter research, exchange new ideas and develop new relationships.
The 12 bugs on the list are classified as critical, high and medium priority. At the top of the critical category are Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause deadly blood infections and pneumonia, most commonly in hospital patients. The third on the list, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, is a family of germs that include Klebsiella and E. coli bacteria. They also commonly originate in hospitals, and can lead to urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia with high mortality rates.
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.
Updates from various data sources.
Acinetobacter is a genus of opportunistic pathogens in the proteobacteria group, species of which are distributed in widespread, diverse habitats. It has garnered media attention because of an outbreak among soldiers in Iraq who contracted the species Acinetobacter baumannii.