Eye on Superbugs Part 5: Pseudomonas aeruginosa


Written by: Selective Micro Technologies 

infectious-diseaseFor this week’s section in the series “Eye on Superbugs,” the focus is on: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common bacterial infection found in the healthcare setting. This opportunistic pathogen lurks in water, soil, carpet, and moist areas. Unfortunately, this superbug is evolving. As the trend has shown, many bugs are developing ways to become drug-resistant, which makes treating illnesses caused by these organisms more and more difficult. With Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, it is being found that this organism too, is becoming difficult to treat with antibiotics, due to its development of resistance. 

 Pseudomonas aeruginosa: What is it?

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative bacterium that is responsible for HAIs (healthcare-acquired/associated infections) due to its high virulence factors. In an article by Christian Van Delden and Barbara H. Iglewski called “Cell-to-Cell Signaling and Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infections,”the authors state that, “Many extracellular virulence factors secreted by P. aeruginosa have been shown to be controlled by a complex regulatory circuit involving cell-to-cell signaling systems that allow the bacteria to produce these factors in a coordinated, cell-density-dependent manner.”

Further stated, in immunocompromised patients, such as someone with AIDS, cancer, or major burns, they are much more susceptible to the illnesses caused by this bacterium. The illnesses range from skin rashes, pneumonia, septicemia, and in certain cases, can cause death. Also within the article, the authors noted that patients with Cystic Fibrosis are “characteristically susceptible to chronic infection by P. aeruginosa, which is responsible for high rates of illness and death in this population.” The virulence factors with this bacterium make it a powerful disease-causing superbug.  

How Do I Get It? 

Due to the fact that this bug is an opportunistic pathogen, it does not typically cause illness and disease in healthy people. It is those who are immunocompromised that should be concerned about coming into contact with this bacteria. The CDC notes that it is a water-borne pathogen and illness can occur if one comes into contact with the bacteria, namely through exposure to contaminated water. This exposure is when you will see the formation of skin rash or folliculitis, as well as ear and eye infections. This is caused by swimming in rivers, ponds, or inadequately chlorinated hot tubs and pools. Seeking medical treatment with antibiotics is crucial to controlling the illness that occurs after exposure. This superbug is working its way to joining the ranks as a drug-resistant strain, so it is crucial to receive medical attention quickly so the proper treatment can be found before the illness gets out of control. 

Fast facts on Pseudomonas aeruginosa:

  1. This bug causes bacterial infections that manifest as skin lesions/ rashes. Be sure to consult with your doctor to have any abnormal skin rashes checked for bacterial infection. **
  2. Bacteria causes skin rashes, pneumonia, UTIs, wound infections, and blood infections like septicemia.
  3. It can be treated with antibiotics, though there are strains that are showing an increasing trend towards drug-resistance.

SMT ChlorineDioxideCTA blog

**An article (with pictures) about cutaneous skin lesions caused by Pseudomonas and other organisms:                 àhttp://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/460749_2

**Check out this fact sheet about Pseudomonas folliculitis (Pseudomonas aeruginosa):        àhttp://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/P4/P42079.pdf 


  • http://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/pseudomonas.html