Bacterium Infects Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan

December 7th, 2004 - by admin

San Angelo Standard Times – 2004-12-07 09:35:59,1897,SAST_4957_3366294,00.html

SAN ANTONIO (December 1, 2004) — Government health officials are urging stronger infection control procedures in military hospitals following a number of infections among troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii, which is resistant to most antibiotic drugs, could be infecting troops on the battlefield and ending up in field hospitals along with casualties from conflicts in the Middle East, a doctor says. The infection’s spread in hospitals prompted health officials to stress better infection control methods.

Dr. David Dooley, director of infection control at Brooke Army Medical Center, and several other military physicians wrote on the growing number of such infections in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a scientific journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report listed 102 cases of patients at military medical facilities who developed serious A. baumannii infections, later spreading to the bloodstream. Most are at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

“They are not as aggressive as some of the other infections we see,” Dooley told the San Antonio Express-News in Wednesday’s editions. “But it is a dangerous bug because it is unusually resistant to the antibiotics we commonly use.”

Such bacteria can trigger wound infections as well as systemic infections that include pneumonia.

Five wounded GIs at BAMC in San Antonio have contracted the bacterium, which exists in soil and water in certain parts of the world and can live on the skin for several days.

Of the total cases, 85 involved GIs wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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