Hopkins ABX Guide

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacterium

What is Pseudomonas Aeruginosa?

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative bacterium from the genus of Pseudomonas bacteria. Normally, it is non-pathogenic which means that it usually isn’t harmful. But for people with a compromised immune system, infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause serious health complications and be even fatal.

Who is at Increased Risk of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection?

Anyone can contract Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection but some groups of people are at increased risk of developing potentially very serious infections. And these are especially difficult to treat because the bacterium has developed resistance to many types of antibiotics that are used to treat infections caused by the species from the Pseudomonas genus.

High risk groups for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection include immunocompromised individuals or people with a weakened immune system either due to illness or medical procedure/treatment, especially if hospitalised. This is because the bacterium spreads more easily in a hospital setting - usually through contaminated medical equipment and healthcare workers unknowingly transmitting the bacterium from patient to patient. The risk of infection is especially high in patients with burns and puncture wounds, and individuals with indwelling medical devices such as catheters and intravenous needles. They are not only more likely to contract the bacteria but are also more likely to develop potentially life-threatening complications.

The risk of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection for healthy individuals is low but those who are spending a lot of time in moist environments such as swimming pools may develop swimmer’s ear or skin rash. The bacterium can also cause severe eye infection if getting into contact with the lens solution.

Symptoms of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection

Symptoms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection depend on the location of the infection or the body part that is affected. If the bacterium has infected a wound, the latter might secrete a green pus. If it infected the ear, it will cause symptoms of the swimmer’s ear (ear pain, watery or yellowish ear discharge). It if infected the lungs, it will cause pneumonia symptoms. If the infection is left untreated, the bacteria can spread to the blood system and cause potentially fatal septicemia or blood poisoning. Severe Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are typically accompanied by high fever.

Treatment of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection

Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is treated with antibiotics. It often requires a combination of two types of antibiotics but it may also require surgical removal of the infected part of the body.