Bacteremia - bacteria in blood

What is Bacteremia?

Bacteremia is an infection of the blood however it should not be confused with blood poisoning. Bacteremia however is an infection which occurs before the occurrence of sepsis. However if the problem is diagnosed, with the appropriate steps, sepsis can be prevented from occurring. Bacteremia may occur in people who are young, old or those who are vulnerable to a variety of medical conditions. It is also very common in people suffering from impaired immune systems, transplants or chemotherapy.

Staph Bacteremia

Staph bacteremia is a type of bacteremia which may occur. A staph infection is an infection which may be a result of infection in the organs or poisoning of the blood aka sepsis. This causes the internal organs or the skin to become inflamed which is caused by bacteria in the blood. Staph bacteremia may be severe or it may be very mild. It might appear due to a skin infection, gland infection, and infection of the bone, sepsis and staph pneumonia amongst others.

Pneumococcal Bacteremia

Pneumococcal bacteremia is a disease which is caused by streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. This particular bacterium is found commonly in the upper respiratory tract of many individuals. People whose immune system does not function properly, this bacterium can spread to the lungs leading to pneumonia which can be a very serious illness.

Streptococcus Bacteremia

The streptococcus bacterium is a kind of coccus which belongs to LAB- lactic acid bacteria. Each individual cell of this bacterium may be ovoid or round and each of these individual cells lack enzyme catalase. There are two groups of this bacteremia, Group A and Group B out of which Group A is more commonly responsible for sepsis.

MRSA Bacteremia

MRSA (Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterium which is responsible for many infections which occur in the body which are unfortunately very difficult to treat. This bacterium is also known as ORSA( oxacillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) and multi drug resistant staphylococcus aureus.

MSSA Bacteremia

MSSA- methicillin susceptible staphylococcus aureus have now become common causes for tissue infections as well as skin infections. This bacterium is one which causes infections in people who have been healthy previously and is thus a very common bacterium causing infections and is being given much importance by health care professionals.

Enterococcus Bacteremia

Infections which are caused by the enteroccus bacterium include meningitis, urinary tract infections, diverticulitis, bacteremia and bacterial endocarditis. When this bacterium is in a small amount, it can be treated with the help of vancomycin and ampicillin.

Polymicrobial Bacteremia

This particular bacterium has increased over the years in those patients who suffer from any type of infection in the bloodstream. When this bacterium causes infections in the blood, it can further lead to problems of gastrointestinal and genitourinary conditions.

Salmonella Bacteremia

Salmonella infections are such that they can be transferred from human to another as well as between animals. Most of the time, salmonella occurs due to having ingested some type of contaminated food.

Serratia Bacteremia

This bacterium is said to be able to cause infections in various parts of the human body such as the eyes, the urinary tract, the respiratory tract and many wounds. When affecting the eyes, it leads to conjunctivitis in some cases as well as tear duct infections. It can also lead to meningitis and pneumonia.

Occult Bacteremia

Occult bacteremia also known as hidden bacteremia is the prevalence of bacteria in a child’s bloodstream. The child who has this bacterium generally has fever but may not actually appear to neither be sick nor show any signs of having an infection.

Bacteremia - bacteria in bloodPicture : Bacteremia – “bacteria in blood”

Bacteremia Symptoms

There are always symptoms felt when a certain illness is coming about. Some of the symptoms of bacteremia are:

  • High fever
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypoxemia
  • A rapid heart beat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea
  • Paleness
  • Weakness

The above mentioned symptoms are normally felt when bacteremia is progressing and becoming septic however when mild bacteremia is present in the body without any inflammation in the blood, symptoms are not always visible.

Causes of Bacteremia

There are a variety of sources from which bacteria may enter a person’s blood and remain there in the form of bacteremia. Some of the major causes of bacteremia are:

  • The transmission of infection diseases
  • Minor injuries which may cause bacteria from the skin’s surface to enter the bloodstream,
  • Infected wounds
  • When drugs may be injected into the body using a needle which is not sterilized
  • When a bladder catheter or intravenous may be inserted into the body
  • Dental procedures
  • Prevalence of any kind of infection in the body

Bacteremia Pathophysiology

The pathophysiology of bacteremia (occult) is still not completely understood. The perceived mechanism however begins with the colonization of bacteria in the respiratory passage and bacteria entering the blood of the child. This is caused due to organism specific characteristics. Once the bacterium actually enters the blood, it may go away very quickly or it may progress causing sepsis.

Difference Between Bacteremia And Sepsis

Bacteremia and sepsis are very closely related however they are not the same problems. When there are simply bacteria in the blood, the condition is known as bacteremia. The bacteria may remain in the blood for a short span of time and in a small quantity or it may be present in the blood for a long period of time and hence multiply. The multiplication of the bacteria in the body (bacteremia) is what leads to sepsis.

Sepsis is a medical condition which is very serious and is characterized by the inflammation of the body. When bacteria enter the blood stream, a response is triggered in the immune system which causes the immune system to slow down and inflamed. The body also finds it hard to fight off infections. Sepsis can be very severe and fatal. If the patient suffers with sepsis and does not get it treated, it can progress into a state of shock and can thus progress very rapidly. If sepsis is feared to be in a person, it should be checked out immediately.

Bacteremia Treatment

The most common way in which bacteremia is treated is with the help of antibiotics. Antibiotics are normally prescribed to the patient before bacteremia is even positively identified in the individual. The person suffering from bacteremia needs to be constantly monitored to ensure that the problem does not become major and turn septic. Since bacteremia is generally associated with the presence of an already existing infection, the infection should itself be found and treated appropriately to make sure that bacteremia too does not further elevate.

Also see – Side effects of Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance



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