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Pseudomonas Aeruginosa - Treatment, Symptoms, Characteristics, Infection

Updated on July 12, 2014

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What is Pseudomonas Aeruginosa?

This is an opportunistic bacteria that lives in the water and soil. You can even find it in certain environments like a hot tube, and swimming pools that have a low level of chlorine. In people this bacteria lives in your ears, intestines, and on your skin. Most of the time this bacteria will not cause any problems but if you have been hospitalized for a long period of time, are elderly, or have a weak immune system pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause a problem.

Even if you are a healthy person you could still develop conditions like swimmer’s ear and hot tub rash, which is usually because you have come in contact with these bacteria. There have been some people who have full-blown aids and cystic fibrosis that have frequently died from an infection that has been caused by this bacteria. Ones who are at more risk of developing a bacterial infection from this bacteria are those you have a variety of immunosuppressed conditions, have had a transplant, or undergone chemotherapy. This bacteria is relatively resistant to most of the antibacterial medications on the market and if the infection hits your bloodstream or lungs it can be deadly.

It is often referred to as gram-negative bacteria or blue-green pus bacteria by physicians because the pus from this bacteria will often show colors from blue to green. The reason for the first name physicians called this bacterial infection is that it refers to the Gram method for staining the bacteria in order to determine what type of bacteria it is. It also lives on about half of the human population.

Symptoms

This bacteria can cause a variety of infections. Depending on the person’s immune system will help define if the bacteria will be mild or severe. If you have a weakened immune system it is most likely the infection will be severe and could be life-threatening. The symptoms that a person has will depend on what type of infection that a person has.

Some of the symptoms that a person might have can include:

  • Discomfort and pain in your ears
  • Severe itching
  • Hearing loss and nerve damage
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inflammation in your bones.

Treatment

Because the bacteria has an inborn resistance to antibiotics that are naturally occurring the physician will normally prescribe a strong combination of antibiotics to help arrest the medical conditions that are caused by this particular strain of bacteria. Three of the antibiotic medications that have proved to be effective against this strain of bacteria are:

  • Imipenem
  • Fluoroquinolone
  • Gentamicin

Most of the time the treatment of pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria will be either intravenous or oral medication (tablets).and they will only consider surgery if there is severe damage to your tissues and it cannot be repaired. If surgery is done they will remove the tissue that is severely damaged.

Characteristics

  • This microorganism is gram negative rod and has a single polar flagellum.
  • The bacteria thrive in any places that have a sufficient water resource and it can also thrive in the absence of oxygen if the soil has an adequate nitrate source.
  • It does not survive by fermentation but survives by respiratory metabolism. This bacteria will attach itself to a substance in order to survive. It is observed most often in stagnant water sources swimming fast.
  • It has little nutritional requirements. If it cultured all it needs to survive is a carbon source, called an acetate and a nitrogen source, called a nitrogen source
  • The temperature that is needed for this bacterium to survive ranges between thirty-seven and forty-two degrees. It also has an environmental adaptability which means that it is tolerant to salt concentrations and temperature conditions.
  • This bacteria contain two pigments and emits a fruity odor. The two pigments are pyoverdin which is responsible for the low iron containing pigment that will facilitate the iron metabolism in this bacteria and pyocyanin which is responsible for blue pus formation.
  • Having the resistance to antibiotics attributes to the antibiotic resistance plasmids also known as the R factor that is contained in the bacteria. These are passed on genetically by the means of conjugation and transduction to the next generation.
  • This bacteria can neither ferment glucose, lactose, nor oxidize.

The last characteristic of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is that this bacteria produces three types of colonies which are:

  • Naturally existing bacteria colony - this colony produces small rough colonies in the water or the soil.
  • Two clinically cultured bacteria colonies - this colonies are two kinds of smooth colonies with one of them that having a mucoid appearance that pertains to the alginate slime secretions and is found in the secretions from your urinary and respiratory tract. The other has an elevated appearance that looks like a fried egg with edges that are flat.

Infection

Some of the infections that could be caused by this bacteria can include:

  • Swimmer’s ear - this is a waterborne infection that is caused in the ears while swimming
  • Hot tub folliculitis - this is an infection of the hair follicles
  • Malignant external otiitis - this is a deep ear infection that is caused by the inflammation of your ear canal
  • Tissue infection - this is an injury in your skin tissue, tendons, and ligaments that can lead to having an infection in your muscles and soft tissues
  • Eye infection - this is caused by the enzymes that are secreted by this bacteria and can damage your cornea. It can also lead to poor vision.
  • Infections in your bloodstream - this is caused by contaminated needles and can infect your organs.
  • Severe pneumonia - this is common in people who are hospitalized that use a mechanical ventilator and breathing tubes.
  • Urinary tract infections - this can be caused by using a contaminated catheter that is inserted during a surgical procedures.
  • Cardiovascular infections - this is common among people who are surviving on intravenous medications and artificial heart valves where the bacteria could be found in these valves.
  • Bone infections - this infection will usually occur in joints and spine that connect the breastbone and collarbone during surgeries or injuries.

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