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Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection: Symptoms and Treatment

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection: Symptoms and Treatment

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that causes infection in people who are ill and usually do not infect healthy people. To know the symptoms and treatment for the infection caused due to this bacteria, read on...
Mayuri Kulkarni
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2018
This rod-shaped bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is normally found in water, soil and other places that contain moisture. It is a pathogen that takes advantage of the weakened immune system of an ill person, and causes different infections. These types of pathogen are called 'opportunistic pathogen'. The incubation period of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is just one to three days. The bacteria can infect any part of the body, but the respiratory system, injured bones and joints, the urinary tract, and the gastric system, are usually affected.

Who are at Risk

People having cystic fibrosis are highly susceptible to infection by the bacteria. People suffering from diseases like AIDS and cancer, are also susceptible to the infection, as their immune system is weakened. The bacteria are also present in the hospital environment. Thus, people who are hospitalized are also at a high risk of getting infected. It can spread through the food, medical equipment and solutions used in the hospitals.


The symptoms depend on the part of the body that is infected. Fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, etc are the most common symptoms. Here's a list of the respective symptoms of each infection.
  • Bone infection: Swollen infected part, redness.
  • Ear infection: Pain in the ear, reduced ability to hear, facial paralysis.
  • Eye infection: Pain in the eye, reduced vision, swollen eyelids.
  • Cystic fibrosis: Cough, reduced appetite, fast breathing, enlargement of the abdomen.
  • Skin infection: Ulcer that can result in bleeding.
Why is it Deadly?

The outer coat of the bacterium is protective, and this makes it resistant to many of the antibiotic drugs. The bacterium easily sticks to the body cells, and its nutritional requirements are also very less. This helps it grow at a faster rate in the body, thus increasing the risk of the infection in people with a weak immune system.


A specialist in infectious diseases can best diagnose the infection, as the identification of the bacteria is important for diagnosis. In hospitals, number of Pseudomonas aeruginosa present is large, and many patients may carry this bacteria. Some patients could only be carriers of the bacteria, without themselves getting infected.

For diagnosis, samples from the infected area are taken for laboratory tests. The bacteria is isolated and cultured in the laboratory. The factors that help to identify the bacteria are:
  • They cannot ferment lactose.
  • They have a fruity odor.
  • They multiply at 42 degree Celsius.
  • On exposure to UV rays, these bacteria show fluorescence.

As mentioned earlier, these bacteria show a resistance to antibiotics. Thus, a combination of two or more antibiotics is used to destroy the bacteria. These antibiotics can be given to the patient orally (i.e. in the form of tablets) or intravenously (i.e. in the form of injections). Surgery is performed in some cases, where the bacteria has damaged a tissue, and the damaged tissue is surgically removed. Eye infections, heart infections, ear infections and bone-joint infections may also need surgery. If the infection is too severe, like an infection that has caused wounds in the legs, amputation may be necessary. Infections due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be cured completely in most cases, with the help of medication and surgery. However, for people who are suffering from severe immune disorders like AIDS and cancer, preventing an infection of this bacteria is the only solution.

Mortality rate due to the infection is almost 50%, and it depends on the type of the infection. Infection to the heart and the lung can be very fatal. Preventive measures should be taken by people who are hospitalized, and people with a weak immune system.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.