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Acinetobacter Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Burke A Cunha, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 15, 2016


Prolonged hospitalization or antibiotic therapy predisposes to Acinetobacter colonization.

Patients with Acinetobacter pneumonias occurring in the context of an outbreak in the intensive care unit (ICU) generally have a history of preceding contact with respiratory support monitors or equipment.

Patients with Acinetobacter colonization often have a history of prolonged hospitalization or antimicrobial therapy (with antibiotics that have little or no activity against Acinetobacter).



Because colonization is the rule and infection is the exception, colonized patients have no associated physical findings.

Patients with Acinetobacter infection have signs and symptoms related to the organ system involved, ie, wound infection, episodic outbreaks of nosocomial pneumonia, CAPD-associated peritonitis, nosocomial meningitis, or catheter-associated bacteruria.

The following is summarized from an article by Go and Cunha (1999):[3]

  • Acinetobacter commonly colonizes skin, oropharynx secretions, respiratory secretions, and urine.
  • Acinetobacter uncommonly colonizes the gastrointestinal tract and is associated with nosocomial pneumonias (which usually occur as outbreaks), bacteremias, and wound infections.
  • Acinetobacter infection is rarely associated with meningitis, endocarditis (native valve infective endocarditis and prosthetic valve endocarditis), peritonitis, urinary tract infections, community-acquired pneumonia, and cholangitis.


Antimicrobial therapy using agents with little or no activity against Acinetobacter predisposes to Acinetobacter colonization.

Residency in an ICU, particularly in the presence of other patients who are colonized with Acinetobacter, predisposes to colonization.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Burke A Cunha, MD Professor of Medicine, State University of New York School of Medicine at Stony Brook; Chief, Infectious Disease Division, Winthrop-University Hospital

Burke A Cunha, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Richard B Brown, MD, FACP Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Baystate Medical Center; Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine

Richard B Brown, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Massachusetts Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD David Ross Boyd Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine, Stewart G Wolf Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center; Master of the American College of Physicians; Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of Professors of Medicine, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Charles S Levy, MD Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Disease, George Washington University School of Medicine

Charles S Levy, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Medical Society of the District of Columbia

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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