HAMILTON, OH — As reported in the The New York Times'' "Rising Threat of Infections Unfazed by Antibiotics" article by Andrew Pollack, a little-known category of "gram-negative" bacteria and germs called acinetobacter baumannii are killing "tens of thousands of hospital patients each year."
Compared to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which receives considerable media and medical attention and for which there are some antibiotics available to fight the disease, there are no antibiotics to battle this new strain of bacteria, which infectious disease experts say makes it an even greater threat.
Acinetobacter baumannii are typically hospital-acquired bacteria that enter the body through open wounds, catheters and breathing tubes. They usually infect those with compromised immune systems, such as the wounded, the elderly, young children or people with immune diseases.
Unlike gram-positive bacteria that have a single-cell membrane, gram-negative bacteria have a double-cell membrane. This helps shield the bacteria from antibiotic treatment, making them difficult, and in many cases impossible, to eradicate. Making the situation worse, because this form of bacteria is so hard to treat, drug manufacturers have shown little interest in developing antibiotics for it.
In fact, the Infectious Diseases Society of America reports that at this time there are no middle- or late-stage clinical trials directed specifically at gram-negative organisms or Acinetobacter baumannii.
Morrison adds that hospital administrators should also consider adding ATP rapid monitoring systems to their cleaning arsenal. "This way they [can] test surfaces quickly to make sure they are hygienically clean and stay that way."