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a complication of a wound process arising from the reproduction of pathogenic microorganisms in a wound. A wound infection can manifest itself by local symptoms, for example, by suppuration, or by general symptoms, for example, by fever, weakness, or posttraumatic sepsis.
Sepsis and tetanus are severe forms of general wound infection. Causative agents include staphylococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and colon bacillus. Associations of these microorganisms are frequently observed. The causative agents of anaerobic infection are less commonly observed. Microorganisms always penetrate a wound, although infection rarely develops if the body and injured tissues are adequately resistant and primary surgical treatment is prompt.
Prevention of a wound infection depends on adequate primary surgical treatment of a wound. Treatment is aimed at suppressing the development of infection through administration of antibiotics and other antimicrobial preparations and at strengthening the defensive mechanisms of the afflicted individual; an adequate diet, transfusions of blood and protein preparations, and the administration of specific serums, toxoids, autovaccines, and gamma globulin serve the latter purpose.