Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic bacteria that lives in soil, water, and even in environments like hot tubs. For most healthy people, this bacteria seldom poses a problem. Occasionally people will develop conditions like hot tub rash, and swimmer’s ear, which may be due to contact with these germs. These conditions can sometimes resolve without treatment, or with minimal treatment, like antibiotic drops for swimmer’s ear.
Unfortunately, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is much more dangerous to certain populations, including those who have weak immune systems, the elderly, and those who have been hospitalized for long periods of time. People with cystic fibrosis and with full-blown AIDS frequently die from infections created by the bacteria. Those who have undergone chemotherapy, have had transplants, or have any of a variety of immunosuppressed conditions are far more at risk for developing bacterial infections due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and because this bacteria is relatively resistant to most antibacterial medications, infection can be deadly, particularly when it becomes infection of the lungs or bloodstream.
Doctors and medical researchers often refer to this bacteria as a blue-green pus bacteria, and/or a gram-negative bacteria. The first reference is to the pus, which can show blue to green colors, and the second refers to the Gram method for staining bacteria to determine what type it is. When samples of gram-negative bacteria, particularly those that are considered aerobic, are stained, they resist color and typically show up in slides under the microscope as a pink color. Aerobic bacteria refers to bacteria that needs oxygen to survive, which Pseudomonas aeruginosa has in ample amounts, particularly in hospital settings.
As mentioned, even though this bacteria tends to live all around us, it is most dangerous to those who are in weakened physical states or have immunodeficiencies. Despite hospital cleaning and safety the bacteria may aggressively survive in basic hospital equipment, like masks used to give oxygen, breathing apparatus, or catheters for urine. Typically most common infections induced by the bacteria are of the bladder, lungs or bloodstream. Inability to produce normal immune reactions to the presence of the bacteria can mean this germ can easily result in extremely grave health conditions.
Treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is usually through intravenous multiple antibiotic combinations, and it unfortunately does not always work. However, there is hope in this field, which may ultimately put an end to the suffering this bacteria may cause. Preliminary studies on a Pseudomonas aeruginosa vaccine are underway, and although these studies have not yet concluded that a currently developed vaccine is completely effective, early results do show that the vaccine can potentially reduce number of infections, as of mid-2007. These early results do not show complete protection from infection, but they are promising as to a reduction, when compared with a placebo group. Such a vaccine could indeed be a boon to the medical community and all those who are at particular risk for life-threatening infections from this bacteria.