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Acinetobacter Baumannii Infection

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 2, 2022.

What causes an Acinetobacter baumannii infection?

An Acinetobacter baumannii infection is caused by the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. It can cause serious infections in the lungs, blood, and brain. It may also cause urinary tract and wound infections. It can be spread by direct contact and may be found on skin or in food, water, or soil. It may also be found in hospitals. Acinetobacter baumannii is highly contagious.

What increases my risk of an Acinetobacter baumannii infection?

Anyone can get an Acinetobacter baumannii infection. You are more likely to get an infection from Acinetobacter baumannii if you have a disease such as diabetes or COPD. You are also at higher risk of getting this infection if:

  • You have a weak immune system. Your immune system helps protect you from getting sick. It may be weak because of you are ill or have had recent surgery.
  • You use poor hygiene. This includes not washing your hands well or long enough.
  • You have been in the intensive care unit (ICU) or have been on a ventilator (breathing machine).
  • You have had a recent surgery or procedure. You are also at higher risk if you have open wounds caused by an accident or injury.
  • You have been near someone who has Acinetobacter baumannii.
  • You have taken antibiotic medicine recently.
  • You have a catheter. This may include a Foley or central venous catheter.

What problems can an Acinetobacter baumannii infection cause?

Acinetobacter baumannii can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. You may not know that you have an Acinetobacter infection until you get sick with one of the following:

  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Acinetobacter baumannii can get into your lungs through your mouth or nose. It may cause pneumonia if you have been in the ICU or if you are on a ventilator.
  • Blood infection: A blood infection may occur if the germ enters through a catheter placed in your vein. It can also happen when an infection from another place in your body spreads to your blood.
  • Meningitis: Meningitis is an infection of the brain or spinal cord. This may happen after surgery that was done on your brain or spine. It may also happen if you have a shunt or drain in your head.
  • Urinary tract infection: A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the kidneys, ureters, or bladder. This may happen when the germ enters your body where you urinate. It may also enter through a catheter that is used to drain your urine.
  • Skin or wound infection: Any skin opening or wound can get infected with the germ.

What are the signs and symptoms of an Acinetobacter baumannii infection?

  • Fever
  • Red, swollen, warm, or painful skin areas or wounds
  • An area of orange, bumpy skin with blisters
  • Cough, chest pain, or trouble breathing
  • Burning feeling while you urinate
  • Sleepiness, headaches, or a stiff neck

How is an Acinetobacter baumannii infection diagnosed?

Healthcare providers will examine you. They may use one or more of the following tests to learn more about your infection:

  • Culture: A sample of your blood, urine, or tissue is sent to the lab. A culture may show which germ is causing your infection.
  • Chest x-ray: A chest x-ray is a picture of your lungs and heart. Your healthcare provider may use an x-ray to look for signs of pneumonia or other infections.
  • Lumbar puncture: Healthcare providers collect a sample of fluid from around your spinal cord using a needle. The fluid is sent to a lab for tests. This test may be done to check for infection, bleeding around your spinal cord, and other problems.

How is an Acinetobacter baumannii infection treated?

Your treatment will depend on where the infection is in your body.

  • Antibiotic medicines: Antibiotic (germ-killing) medicine will be used to treat your infection. Your healthcare provider may give you more than one antibiotic medicine to take at a time. He also may need to change your medicine over time.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell your healthcare provider if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.

How do I prevent the spread of Acinetobacter baumannii?

  • Wash your hands: Use soap and water to wash your hands after you use the bathroom, before you touch food, and after you cough or sneeze. You may use germ-killing hand cleaner if you do not have water. Always wash your hands when they are dirty.
  • Keep wounds covered: Keep any wounds clean and covered with a bandage until they are healed.
  • Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions when you take antibiotic medicines: Finish all of your medicine, even if you feel better. Germs may become resistant (harder to kill) if you do not do this. Do not take antibiotics unless your healthcare provider tells you to.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills or a cough or feel weak and achy.
  • You have new or more pain, redness, or swelling in the area of a wound.
  • Your urine is dark in color, or you are urinating less or less often than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your infection, treatment, or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek help immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have sudden or new chest pain or a fast heartbeat.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.
  • Your lips and fingernails turn blue.
  • You are sleepy, confused, and have trouble answering simple questions.
  • You have sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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