Eye on Superbugs Part 4: Acinetobacter baumannii


Written by: Selective Micro Technologies 

patient-with-nurseFor this week’s section in the series “Eye on Superbugs”, we chose to showcase a superbug that is generally unknown: Acinetobacter baumannii. It has not been a major newsmaker, but due to its high resistance to multiple kinds of antibiotics and being very difficult to treat, it’s worthwhile to shed some light on this bug.

Acinetobacter baumannii: What is it?

Acinetobacter baumannii, is another HAI (healthcare-acquired/associated infection) that is highly resistant to antibiotics. Similarly to other bugs we have showcased, healthy people do not typically contract this infection. This is in the infectious disease category, and it is typically caught by immunocompromised people who are hospitalized.

This bug is also considered to be multi-drug resistant, which makes it even more difficult to treat. It causes a handful of different kinds of diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, UTI’s, and wound infections, according to Lisa L. Maragakis, who authored an article in the Oxford Journal on Acinetobacter baumannii. She also notes that this bug has an ability to survive under a “wide range of environmental conditions and to persist for extended periods of time on surfaces.” Thus making it more crucial to disinfect all patient equipment that is not disposable along with common areas and patient rooms.

Due to the fact that this bacteria is resistant to multiple drugs, there is a relatively high mortality rate. In the article by Maragakis, she states the mortality rate seems to be around 26%-68% in patients confirmed to have contracted the bacteria. Treatment options for this bacterial infection vary for certain types of drugs like Polymyxin therapies, Carbapenems, and Tigecyclines, according to Maragakis.

Though these drugs were given as options, not enough conclusive research has been completed to show any one of these to be the better treatment option over the other. As stated earlier, this bacteria has not made major news as to the different outbreaks in healthcare settings, but nonetheless, it poses a potential major hazard to people who are already hospitalized for other illnesses, and needs not be overlooked.

For the full text of Lisa L. Maragakis’s article “Acinetobacter baumannii: Epidemiology, Antimicrobial Resistance, and Treatment Options” click on this link:

Fast facts on Acinetobacter baumannii:

  1. This bug has been known to be found on patient care equipment, therefore proper disinfection of this equipment is crucial.
  2. Multi-drug resistant bacteria—makes treatment of patients much more difficult.
  3. Good hand hygiene is one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of infection.

Bacteria causes diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, UTI’s, and wound infections.

Superbug 4 inforgraphic


* Infographic provided by Dr. Lisa L. Maragakis, Dept. of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe St., Osler 425, Baltimore, MD 21287 on http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/8/1254.full