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Acinetobacter is an aerobic, gram-negative bacteria typically found in water sources in soil. Although it has a very low virulence, acinetobacter can flourish in organ systems which contain a high level of fluid, such as respiratory secretions, urine, and in rare cases synovial fluid post-operatively. Most isolates represent colonization rather than infection.[1]


Acinetobacter species are non-motile bacteria which appear as gram-negative coccobaccili in pairs on microscopic study. There are 25 different strains,[2] though A. Baumanni is responsible for 80% of infections. All species are classified as non-lactose fermenting.

Clinical significance

Acinetobacter cause a variety of diseases, ranging from nosocomial (hospital-acquired) pneumonia to serious wound infections. Symptoms of a wound infection include redness and/or heat at the site, fever, chills, purulent or odd-colored drainage, and pain. Although not prevalent in the general population, Acinetobacter can cause severe, life-threatening illness in immunocompromised patients.[3]


Acinetobacter is resistant to many different strains of antibiotics—penicillins, cephalosporins, flourquinolones, and aminoglycosides. Luckily, due to its typically non-pathogenic nature, its resistance does not have much clinical significance. However, in the case of an infection, the first line of defense are the carbapenems— imipenem, meropenem, etc. Recently, there has been a worrying increase in carbapenem resistance, leading to very little lines of defense for Acinetobacter.

Iraq War

In November 2004, according to the CDC, it was found that many troops in military hospitals had blood infections of multi-drug resistance to Acinetobacter. This was found in both Afghanistan and Iraq. This shows the need for more funding and support to our medical centers overseas.


  1. "Burke A Cunha, MD (2007) "Acinetobacter"
  2. Collaborative effort of the DHSD, AFIOH, DHCC, NEHC, GEIS and USACHPPM. Acinetobacter Infections -- Information for Servicemembers and Their Families
  3. Ulrike Gerisher (2008). Acinetobacter Molecular Biology