purpose and patients and methods: Fewer than 8 percent of intravenous drug abusers are found to have polymicrobial endocarditis. We report on cases of occult polymicrobial infective endocarditis with Haemophilus parainfluenzae in 10 intravenous drug abusers. Clinical and laboratory data on all 10 patients were obtained from hospital charts, and information on illicit drug use methods was given by five patients. Blood cultures were performed, as wlel as susceptibility testing to antibiotics. Subsequent molecular epidemiologic studies were performed on selected Staphylococcus aureus and H. parainfluenzae strains. Phage typing of S. aureus and biotyping of H. parainfluenzae strains were also done. results: Results of the initial blood cultures were positive on the second to fifth days (mean, 2.6 days), demonstrating a gram-positive pathogen in nine patients and Bacteroides asaccharolyticus in one. Significantly, in each case, H. parainfluenzae alone was subsequently identified from additional blood cultures, with a mean delay of 20.4 days (range, five to 57 days) to the isolation of this organism. Epidemiologic data indicated that our cases did not represent a point-source outbreak. Antibiotic therapy uniformly failed until an agent active against H. parainfluenzae was added. The constellation of clinical, microbiologic, and epidemiologic findings was similar, and permitted prospective diagnosis and therapy in three patients. Despite the absence of S. aureus bacteremia in four, all 10 patients had right-sided endocarditis with septic pulmonary emboli. Five patients had initial blood cultures that were positive for two fucultative gram-positive cocci (S. aureus and commensal oral streptococcal species). conclusion: Our findings suggest that polymicrobial endocarditis with H. parainfluenzae in intravenous drug abusers is a distinct clinical syndrome, and should be considered in all patients if the response to appropriate antibiotics is atypical or if pulmonary emboli continue with therapy.
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