Highly Drug-Resistant Pathogens Implicated in Burn-Associated Bacteremia in an Iraqi Burn Care Unit

The full article is available in PLOS One



In low- and middle-income countries, bloodstream infections are an important cause of mortality in patients with burns. Increasingly implicated in burn-associated infections are highly drug-resistant pathogens with limited treatment options. We describe the epidemiology of bloodstream infections in patients with burns in a humanitarian surgery project in Iraq.


We performed a retrospective, descriptive study of blood culture isolates identified between July 2008 and September 2009 among patients with burns in a single hospital in Iraq who developed sepsis.


In 1,169 inpatients admitted to the burn unit during the study period, 212 (18%) had suspected sepsis, and 65 (6%) had confirmed bacteremia. Sepsis was considered the primary cause of death in 198 patients (65%; 95% CI 65–70) of the 304 patients that died. The most commonly isolated organisms were Pseudomonas aeruginosa (22 isolates [34%]), Staphylococcus aureus (17 [26%]), Klebsiella pneumoniae (8 [12%]), Staphylococcus epidermidis (7 [11%]), Acinetobacter baumannii (6 [9%]), and Enterobacter cloacae (5 [8%]). A high proportion of Enterobacteriaceae strains produced extended-spectrum beta-lactamase and S. aureus isolates were uniformly methicillin-resistant. For gram-negative bacteria, the most reliably active antibiotics were imipenen and amikacin.


Burn patients with sepsis in Iraq were commonly found to have bloodstream pathogens resistant to most antibiotics available locally. Effective empirical therapy of burn sepsis in this region of Iraq would consist of vancomycin or teicoplanin and a carbapenem-class antibiotic with antipseudomonal activity.


Jean-Baptiste Ronat, Jabar Kakol, Marwan N. Khoury, Mathilde Berthelot, Oliver Yun, Vincent Brown, Richard A. Murphy