What are anaerobic bacteria?

Anaerobic bacteria are part of normal flora of human skin and mucosal membranes. The site of anaerobic infection is commonly the site of normal colonization. The spectrum of infections ranges from local abscesses to life-threatening infections. Anaerobic bacteria differ from aerobic bacteria in their oxygen requirement. Oxygen is toxic to anaerobes which can be explained by the absence of enzymes in the anaerobes of catalase, superoxide dismutase, and peroxidase enzymes. Anaerobes are fastidious organisms and are difficult to grow if proper collection and culture methods are not used. The diagnosis requires clinical suspicion and proper microbiological identification.

Anaerobic bacteria are a common cause of infections, some of which can be serious and life-threatening. Because anaerobes are the predominant components of the normal flora of the skin and mucous membranes, they are a common cause of infections of endogenous origin. Because of their fastidious nature, anaerobes are hard to culture and isolate and are often not recovered from infected sites. The administration of delayed or inappropriate therapy against these organisms may lead to failures in eradication of these infections. The isolation of anaerobic bacteria requires adequate methods for collection, transportation and cultivation of clinical specimens. The management of anaerobic infection is often difficult because of the slow growth of anaerobic organisms, which can delay their identification by the frequent polymicrobial nature of these infections and by the increasing resistance of anaerobic bacteria to antimicrobials.


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