The resiliency of Acinetobacter bacteria has been known since it was first studied in 1973 after being brought back from Vietnam by soldiers.  At that time, the spread of this infectious agent could easily be controlled with common antibiotics. Today the pathogen can be found in the soil and in water sources across the U.S. Unfortunately, it has also acquired multidrug resistance.  This germ generally attacks people who are vulnerable because of traumatic injury or a compromised immune system.

MDRO Acinetobacter bacteria is most often associated with military medical settings as it has also been brought back from Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Long term acute care hospitals (LTACH) are frequent recipients of patients who have been infected with this organism.  New sterilization procedures have recently been developed for these facilities in an attempt to rid LTACH environments of MDRO Acinetobacter.

Recent studies indicate that only 1.5% of bloodstream infections are currently related to this particular pathogen.  Yet, it is well known because of it serious potential to wreck havoc with normal sterilization protocol at any treatment facility it contaminates.  It can spread from person to person and can survive on surfaces for 3 to 5 months.  More importantly, it has been found that the bacterium has become resistant to even the harsh cleaning solutions commonly used in the past.

Currently, Acinetobacter infection is primarily a hospital acquired condition.  However, it could very well spread to schools and other communal facilities just like Staph infection has.

Can Hospitals Stop The Spread Of Acinetobactor?

In May of 2009, Infection Control Today featured a case study concerning Acinetobacter infection in two patients at an LTACH facility.  Transmissions of this infection to new victims occurred from December of 2007 until February 2008. By that time, six patients had tested positive for the infection despite the fact that isolation procedures had been in place from the beginning of the outbreak.

Management knew they had a serious problem and decided to become proactive in finding the source of the transmission. One of the first things they looked at was instrument reprocessing.  They reviewed all records concerning sterilization of equipment and created cultures for validation.  This was eliminated as a potential source, but the problem was still there.

They then took cultures from all surfaces and tracked all known occurrences of the pathogen.  Samples were even collected from non infected patients and staff. The hospital discovered two additional patients who tested positive yet were asymptomatic.  There were now eight people within the infected population.

Positive cultures showed up from surfaces in rooms where infected patients had been treated in the past despite terminal cleaning having been done.  The health facility began searching for a solution that would have a broad range of effectiveness.

Vaprosure® To The Rescue

Procedures for entire room sterilization were instituted when the facility bought new technology to handle the infection situation. The team used the Vaprosure Sterilizer to create a dry sterilant vapor that would completely fill each targeted room.  To make a long story short, it took about 12 hours to seal, sterilize and then aerate each room with the help of an open window.  Subsequent cultures from various parts of the room confirmed that the offending bacterium had finally been destroyed.

Lab tests confirmed that the normal chemicals used for terminal cleaning were no longer effective against Acinetobacter. New terminal cleaning products were purchased and entire room sterilization was scheduled yearly or done immediately upon discharge of an infected patient.  The outbreak was arrested as a result.

Prevention of such infections requires the proper equipment as well as procedures.  Autoclaves and steam sterilizers play their part in this process. Click on this free report for additional information.