Citrobacter freundii appear as Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that are 0.3-1 micrometer in diameter and 0.6-6 micrometers in length. Citrobacter have hair-like extensions, called flagella, that are distributed all over the surface of the bacteria, enabling movement, as stated by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Citrobacter freundii cause hospital-acquired infections. Though they are not common sources of these infections, Citrobacter freundii can cause infections of the urinary tract, blood, and intra-abdominal area, as well as brain abscesses and pneumonia. Infections in infants under 2 months old include meningitis, tissue infections or sepsis, joint infection and infection of the blood, also called bacteremia. The mortality rate of infections caused by C. freundii are 33-48 percent and 30 percent for newborn children, according to the PHAC.
Citrobacter freundii can be found in land and aquatic animals, and humans, as part of the normal intestinal bacterial composition. The most common way of spreading Citrobacter freundii is person-to-person transmission, including among hospital staff, and between mother and child, as reported by the PHAC. Another way that Citrobacter freundii can be spread is through eating contaminated foods, such as parsley. Outside of a host, this bacteria can survive in water and soil, allowing the bacteria to contaminate produce.