What is Acinetobacter Baumannii?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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Acinetobacter baumannii is a bacterium in the Acinetobacter genus which can be dangerous for human beings who have compromised immune systems, causing opportunistic infections which can lead to death if the patient does not receive aggressive treatment. One of the biggest issues with treating Acinetobacter baumannii is that the bacterium is naturally resistant to a number of antibiotics, making it challenging to find a drug regimen which will effectively attack it in an infected patient.

This bacterium is gram negative and aerobic, thriving in a wide variety of environments. It is broadly distributed in nature, growing in both dry and wet situations, and it is commonly cultured from healthy human beings, illustrating the fact that people can carry the bacterium without experiencing infections. When carriers enter a hospital, nursing home, or similar environment with vulnerable patients, they can pass Acinetobacter baumannii on, causing serious infections. Nurses and other healthcare providers often carry Acinetobacter baumannii and other such bacteria due to their contact with large numbers of patients.

Infection commonly starts in the lungs as a result of inhaling the bacterium or being on a ventilator, and it is also associated with catheter infections. If Acinetobacter baumannii is allowed to grow, it will slowly spread into other areas of the body, colonizing the organs and eventually leading to death. Acinetobacter baumannii is considered a superbug because it is resistant to many antibiotics, and as a result infected patients have to be carefully monitored.


Many serious infections with Acinetobacter baumannii are nosocomial in nature, meaning that they were acquired in a hospital or health care facility. The risk of nosocomial infections can be reduced by carefully observing sanitation protocols such as hand washing, thoroughly wiping down rooms, and cleaning instruments and linens with techniques which will render them sterile. This techniques can sound simple, but in practice in a busy hospital they can be hard to follow, resulting in hospital-acquired infections.

Treatment for infection with this pathogenic bacteria requires starting a course of antibiotics, monitoring the patient's response, and supporting the patient medically during the treatment to keep him or her as stable as possible. If an antibiotic does not appear to be effective, a new drug will need to be used to see if it successfully eliminates the bacterium. Hospitals may also opt to culture bacteria from a patient to test potential antibiotics in the lab, and to keep track of Acinetobacter baumannii infections by closely examining the strains their patients are infected with for clues to explain their origins and spread.


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Post 6

I have read the article and the comments above. I just found out I have this in a rash form on about 60 percent of my body. They are treating it like it is a poison oak outbreak. As I have Cystic Fibrosis, I am a little bit worried about how this might spread. Anyone have any suggestions?

Post 5

my mom suffered for months because of this. we were told by the doctors it was like a really bad cold. I have never seen a cold kill someone. we were never told to wash our hands to be careful. no one should ever have to suffer in this way.

Post 4

Thank you for the article. I contracted this bacteria four years ago at the age of 36. I work at a hospital but do not come into close contact with the pets. I was ill, no, gravely ill for six months before they finally made the diagnosis.

I can tell you one thing: it was not pleasant. It actually left me with badly damaged lungs. The only antibiotic it was sensitive to was ciffloxasine\ cibrobay. It was bad.

Post 3

Nice article. can someone tell me the link for the infectivity data for this organism?

Post 2

This bacteria is frightening. To the person who wrote the above comment, will you please contact me asap? I have some questions for a project I am working on in the next few weeks.

Post 1

I wish I'd known then what I know now about AB. My beloved grandmother, in excellent health at 79, fought mightily then succumbed to this horrible infection in 2008. She caught it while recovering from minor surgery in the local hospital.

If I'd known then what a cruel and deadly infection this was, floating around our hospital, I would have pulled her out of the hospital so fast it would've made her head spin! Now only regret is my companion. The pictures posted on the web of this infection are gruesome, but they are reality. I have firsthand knowledge of it.

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