Background: Bacterial co-infection of patients suffering from influenza pneumonia is a key element that increases morbidity and mortality. The occurrence of Acinetobacter baumannii co-infection in patients with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus infection has been described as one of the most prevalent bacterial co-infections. However, the clinical and laboratory features of this entity of H7N9 and A. baumannii co-infection have not been systematically investigated.
Methods: We collected clinical and laboratory data from laboratory-confirmed H7N9 cases co-infected by A. baumannii. H7N9 patients without bacterial co-infection and patients with A. baumannii-related pneumonia in the same hospital during the same period were recruited as controls. The antibiotic resistance features and the corresponding genome determinants of A. baumannii and the immune responses of the patients were tested through the respiratory and peripheral blood specimens.
Results: Invasive mechanical ventilation was the most significant risk factor for the nosocomial A. baumannii co-infection in H7N9 patients. The co-infection resulted in severe clinical manifestation which was associated with the dysregulation of immune responses including deranged T-cell counts, antigen-specific T-cell responses and plasma cytokines. The emergence of genome variations of extensively drug-resistant A. baumannii associated with acquired polymyxin resistance contributed to the fatal outcome of a co-infected patient.
Conclusions: The co-infection of H7N9 patients by extensively drug-resistant A. baumannii with H7N9 infection is an important issue which deserves attention. The dysfunctions of immune responses were associated with the co-infection and were correlated with the disease severity. These data provide useful reference for the diagnosis and treatment of H7N9 infection.
Keywords: Acinetobacter baumannii; Avian influenza A(H7N9) virus; Extensively drug-resistant bacteria; Immune responses; Nosocomial infection; Pneumonia.