What is Acinetobacter?

Acinetobacter is a type of bacteria that can be isolated readily from many sources in the environment, including drinking and surface waters, soil, sewage and various different types of foods. At least 25% of healthy people probably carry these bacteria on their skin as harmless colonisers. However, some strains of Acinetobacter can cause infections in hospital patients who are already unwell.

What illnesses are caused by Acinetobacter?

Infections caused by Acinetobacter in the community are very rare. In hospitals, some strains of Acinetobacter, particularly Acinetobacter baumannii, can cause infections such as pneumonia, bacteraemia (blood poisoning), skin and wound infections, or urinary tract infection.

How is Acinetobacter infection treated?

Many strains of Acinetobacter are easily treated with common antibiotics. However, some of the strains found in hospitals are already resistant to many antibiotics and are therefore much more difficult to treat.

Who is at risk of Acinetobacter infection?

The people most likely to be infected are those who are already seriously ill and have been admitted to a hospital. Those at particular risk include patients staying in intensive care units and burns units for prolonged periods. Acinetobacter does not pose a risk to hospital staff or to family members or close contacts of an affected patient.

(Source: HPA)