Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common type of bacterial strain causing infections in human beings. Serious infections caused by this bacterium usually occur at the hospital and among individuals with weakened immune systems.

This hospital-borne aka nosocomial infection has caused the death of three premature infants in Pennsylvania recently. Continue reading to find out how the infection spreads in hospitals.

Pseudomonas infections not only affect the sick but can also occur in healthy individuals. It usually happens after being exposed to infected water. Inadequately chlorinated swimming pools and hot tubs can spread the infection among healthy people who might not even have any symptoms. Sometimes they can cause minor issues like skin rashes, ear infections (in children) and eye infections (among those who use extended-wear contact lenses).

Widely involved in infections acquired in healthcare settings, Pseudomonas aeruginosa affects severely ill hospitalized patients, especially those on breathing machines, catheters or those with burns or surgical wounds. The bacteria spread through the hands of healthcare workers or via contaminated equipment, cleaning solutions, and food. The bacteria can cause infections of the blood, bone or urinary tract. It is also possible that the infection spreads through IV needles and catheters.

Depending on which part of the body the infection occurs, the symptoms of pseudomonas infection might vary. While an infected wound causes greenish-blue pus, if it causes pneumonia, one might have a cough. Fever and fatigue are other common symptoms. A serious infection, especially when it spreads through the bloodstream, can cause very high fever, chills, confusion, and shock.

This opportunistic pathogen can cause a broad spectrum of diseases and is the primary cause of ventilation associated pneumonia in the ICUs. In recent times, pseudomonas infections have been recognized as an acute issue in healthcare settings due to the bacterium's intrinsic resistance to several antibiotic classes and its capacity to acquire practical resistance to most effective antibiotics.

A nurse feeds a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Virtua Health facility in Vorhees, New Jersey
A nurse feeds a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Virtua Health facility in Vorhees, New Jersey, November 19, 2009. Virtua Health, a suburban Philadelphia hospital chain, had a problem. Scheduled caesarean sections were running behind schedule -- from one to two hours on a good day to as much as eight to 10 when things really got backed up. Enter General Electric Co. The largest U.S. conglomerate is bringing its corporate arsenal of efficiency tools, like Six Sigma with its "black belt" experts who make factories run more smoothly, to the world of white coats and stethoscopes. They are the ones who helped Virtua clean up its scheduling mess. Picture taken November 19, 2009. Reuters

Since more such antibiotic bacteria have been developing, hospitals need to take additional care to practice infection control. Practicing good hand hygiene and isolating infected patients can help prevent the spread of this infection. While at hospitals, it is recommended that you remind your healthcare providers to wash their hands before they touch you. And you can cover your wound with dry bandages and follow your doctor’s instructions on wound care.