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Common CF bugs, Where They Come From And How They Affect People With CF

Common CF bugs, Where They Come From And How They Affect People With CF

Staphylococcus aureus

  • Commonly found in the nose and on the skin
  • Most common bacteria found in children’s lungs with CF
  • Methicillin-resistant auerus Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection is more common in the older person with CF and may be more difficult to treat due to resistance to some common antibiotics
  • MRSA infection may be associated with a faster rate of decline in lung function but the impact on the lungs is still uncertain. Clinics may manage this infection differently depending on how your lungs are affected

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Found widely in the environment, particularly in damp areas and stagnant water
  • Most common bug in CF lung disease
  • As you get older, your chance of having a Pseudomonas infection goes up.
  • At first, infection may be temporary and easily treated with antibiotics
  • Chronic infection is harder to get rid of and can be associated with decreasing lung function and increased frequency of hospital admissions or need for more antibiotic therapy (oral, inhaled or intravenous)

 Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC)

  • Found in natural environments including soil and plants
  • cenocepacia and B. multivorans are most commonly found in CF airways. B cenocepacia is associated with decreasing lung function and more need for IV antibiotics
  • People who have BCC are generally seen in separate clinics and inpatient wards to prevent this bacteria spreading between individuals with CF.

Stenotrophomonas maltophilia

  • Most often found in soils
  • More common in CF over the last decade but may come and go from your lungs
  • The impact of this bacteria on the lungs is currently unclear

Achromobacter xylosoxidans

  • Generally found in wet environments
  • The impact of this bacteria on the lungs is currently unclear

Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)

  • Commonly found in soil and water
  • There are over 150 types of NTM, Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and Mycobacterium abscessus complex are the two that most often cause lung infection in CF
  • NTM has been increasingly reported in CF centres across the world in the last ten years
  • Mycobacterium abscessus infection may cause a worsening of symptoms and can be challenging to treat due to resistance to antibiotics and/or the side effects related to the antibiotics used

Other bacteria include:

Haemophilus influenzae.  This bacteria (bug) is often found in the nose. It is most commonly found in children with CF, after which time it is less common.  

Aspergillus fumigatus is a fungus and it becomes more common as you get older. Some people develop a condition called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosus (ABPA), which causes worsening lung symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and increased cough, with difficulty clearing mucus.


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