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Infectious Diseases

What is pseudomonas alcaligenes?

06/02/2008

Question:

What are the fundamental facts concerning the bacteria pseudomonas alcaligenes?
A recent news story implied this bacteria was a potential health problem.
Does it occur naturally?  Is it a soil bacteria?  Where does it occur?  At what levels is it dangereous or a health hazard?

Answer:

The bacteria you are probably referring to is currently known as Achromobacter xylosoxidans, which has had several name changes over the years. It is an aerobic, nonfermenting gram negative rod that can be distinguished from Pseudomonas species by the presence of flagella that allow the organism to move. Because it is one of a large group of "nonfermenting" bacteria, the biological tests used to identify bacteria come out negative, so it often will take the Microbiology Lab a longer time to identify these than many other bacteria. It may colonize and infect humans, almost always with an underlying illness such as cystic fibrosis. Its reservoir remains unknown, but it can survive and multiply in water and has contaminated disinfectant solutions.

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati