Gram-negative bacteria are classified by the color they turn after a chemical process called Gram staining is used on them. Gram-negative bacteria stain red when this process is used. Other bacteria stain blue. They are called gram-positive bacteria Overview of Gram-Positive Bacteria Gram-positive bacteria are classified by the color they turn after a chemical called Gram stain is applied to them. Gram-positive bacteria stain blue when this stain is applied to them. Other... read more . Gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria stain differently because their cell walls are different. They also cause different types of infections, and different types of antibiotics are effective against them.
Gram-negative bacteria are enclosed in a protective capsule. This capsule helps prevent white blood cells (which fight infection) from ingesting the bacteria. Under the capsule, gram-negative bacteria have an outer membrane that protects them against certain antibiotics, such as penicillin. When disrupted, this membrane releases toxic substances called endotoxins. Endotoxins contribute to the severity of symptoms during infections with gram-negative bacteria.
Gram-negative bacterial infections include the following:
Gram-negative bacteria can cause many serious infections, such as pneumonia Overview of Pneumonia Pneumonia is an infection of the small air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) and the tissues around them. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death worldwide. Often, pneumonia is the final... read more , peritonitis Peritonitis Abdominal pain is common and often minor. Severe abdominal pain that comes on quickly, however, almost always indicates a significant problem. The pain may be the only sign of the need for surgery... read more (inflammation of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity), urinary tract infections Overview of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) In healthy people, urine in the bladder is sterile—no bacteria or other infectious organisms are present. The tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body (urethra) contains no bacteria... read more , bloodstream infections Bacteremia Bacteremia is the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. Bacteremia may result from ordinary activities (such as vigorous toothbrushing), dental or medical procedures, or from infections ... read more , wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis Acute Bacterial Meningitis Acute bacterial meningitis is rapidly developing inflammation of the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and of the fluid-filled space between the meninges (subarachnoid... read more .
Gram-negative bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics Antibiotic resistance Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms. They are among the earliest known life forms on earth. There are thousands of different kinds of bacteria, and they live in every conceivable... read more . Bacteria may be resistant because of any of the following:
They are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics.
They acquire genes from bacteria that have become resistant.
Their genes mutate.