Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the strain of Pseudomonas most commonly associated with infections in humans.

It is a Gram-negative rod, motile by means of a single flagellum, and is a common inhabitant of soil and water as well as surfaces in contact with soil or water.  Because of this and its ability to tolerate a wide variety of physical conditions, including temperature, weak antiseptics, high concentrations of salt and dyes, as well as some commonly-used antibiotics, Pseudomonas is gaining more significance as a clinical pathogen.  In fact, according to the CDC Pseudomonas is the fourth most-commonly isolated nosocomial pathogen, accounting for about 10% of all hospital-acquired infections.  It almost never infects uncompromised tissue however it has been responsible for causing urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, bone and joint infections, and systemic infections in patients with severe burns, cancer, or who are immunosuppressed.

Though the most serious Pseudomonas infections generally occur in those who are hospitalized, with blood infections, pneumonia, and post-operative infections among the most severe, Pseudomonas is also responsible for causing mild infection in healthy people.  Contact with a contaminated water source, such as an improperly chlorinated swimming pool or hot tub can cause ear infections or generalized skin rashes.  Additionally, there have been reports of eye infections caused by extended-wear contact lenses.

Following proper handwashing guidelines and sanitization protocols for equipment are the keys to preventing Pseudomonas infection both in the hospital setting as well as in our daily lives.

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