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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is not a bacterium that hospitals appreciate. This bacterium has become very common in the hospital setting due to its increasing resistance to antibiotics and common disinfectants used to sanitize counters and other surfaces. Movement within a hospital is not a problem for Pseudomonas aeruginosa because it can be so easily transferred through casual hand-to-hand contact. Additionally, it can hide in lotions, soaps and other aqueous solutions where it waits for an unsuspecting person to come along and pick it up and become infected. Even healthy people can unknowingly carry this bacterium in their gastrointestinal tracts. However, people whose immune systems are suppressed by age or disease are especially susceptible to the bacteria’s infectious nature. Hospitals can have a perfect storm of infection brewing in them due to a combination of weaken patients to infect and intense selection pressures that are producing superior strains of this bacteria that are resistance to their best measures to control and eliminate it.

Above picture: hand contact is a good way to pick up Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Picture from WikiCommons.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes a wide range of infections in humans. People who are most at risk include those with HIV, those with suppressed immune systems, individuals with cystic fibrosis or diabetes, and even people with cancer.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and burns:
Burns destroy the layers of the skin as well as parts of the immune system--prime for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  Open wounds caused by burns, combined with the suppression of the immune systems, allows the bacteria to colonize in the wound.
Right: picture of a burn- asking to be infected. Image from WikiCommons

Pseudomonas aeruginosa
and swimmer’s ear:
It is not uncommon to find some Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a healthy person’s ear. However, those individuals who often expose themselves to water make conditions in the ear canal optimal for the growth of this bacterium.  In fact, it causes about 70% of the diagnosed cases of swimmer’s ear.

For more information about swimmer's ear, visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Respiratory infections:
Pseudomonas aeruginosa loves to infect individuals with cystic fibrosis.
Background:  Cystic fibrosis is a genetically inherited disease that is life threatening because it affects the cells (exocrine glands) in the lungs and digestive tract that are responsible for producing mucus and digestive fluids.
As I said on my habitat page, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has an affinity for moist environments, making the mucus of the lung’s and digestive tract a wonderful place to colonize. Once Pseudomonas aeruginosa has colonized, it surrounds itself by mucoid, a polysaccharide made of alginate. This mucoid biofilm layer makes it difficult to treat an infection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Infections of this bacterium cause the lungs to become inflamed, this damages the tissues in the lungs leading to the production of scar tissue and reduced respiratory function. The long-term presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients most commonly is what causes death.
Eye infections:
These infections usually occur because of contaminated contact lenses or a scratch on the cornea. Once Pseudomonas aeruginosa begins to colonize on the eye, enzymes created by the bacteria begin to deteriorate the cornea, which causes ulcers. If eye infections are not caught right away, they can lead to permanent damage such as vision loss and even blindness.

For more information about illness caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, visit:

BBC News

Just like humans, many animals carry Pseudomonas aeruginosa and are not affected by it.  However, these bacteria can also cause infections. Some effects that Pseudomonas aeruginosa can have on animals include spontaneous abortion, genital infections, ear infections, and respiratory infections. Some species that are affected by these bacteria include dogs, cats, and sheep.

Above and below pictures: All organisms that Pseudomonas aeruginosa can infect. Pictures from WikiCommons.


Oddly enough, plants can also become infected by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. As I said on the habitat page, these bacteria can be found in the soil. Because of this, it isn’t too out there to see why plants also becoming infected. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, much like in animals/ humans, are parasitic to plants. Pseudomonas aeruginosa ends up creating a biofilm layer over the root tips of plants in order to protect itself from the enzymes secreted from the roots. This biofilm layer ultimately causes the death of the plant.


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