Hardy Bacteria Plagues Military Hospitals

Scientists track highly drug-resistant infection that preys on wounded
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2007 3:29 PM CDT
Hardy Bacteria Plagues Military Hospitals
An injured patient rests at a hospital in Dahuk, 430 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007, after four simultaneous suicide bombing attacks on Tuesday aimed at communities of a small Kurdish sect in northwestern Iraq, killing at least 200 people and wounding 300...   (Associated Press)

It runs rampant in military hospitals, not virulent enough to infect the healthy, but highly resistant to many antibiotics and capable of lying dormant for years. Dozens infected by it have died, but it may not be the actual killer. The strange bacterium Acinetobacter has scientists scratching their heads, the LA Times reports.

Little known until recently, Acinetobacter has infected hundreds of wounded soldiers in Iraq over the past few years, sending scientists on a hunt for answers. They now suspect military hospital conditions as the culprit: Infection-control measures such as hand-washing are more slack and patient trauma more severe in hectic field hospitals, creating a perfect storm for the bug. (Read more Acinetobacter stories.)

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