True infection or contamination in patients with positive Cutibacterium blood cultures-a retrospective cohort study

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Cutibacterium is a genus often considered a contaminant when present in blood cultures, but it can also cause severe infections, especially related to implanted foreign materials. We investigated the incidence and features of patients with true Cutibacterium infection. Patients with positive Cutibacterium blood cultures between the years 2015-2020 in southern Sweden were identified through microbiology records and medical records were studied retrospectively. Cutibacterium isolates were species determined using MALDI-TOF MS. Patients were classified as having true infection or contamination according to a definition considering both clinical and microbiological features and these groups were compared. A total of 313 episodes of positive Cutibacterium blood cultures were identified in 312 patients. Of these, 49 (16%, corresponding to an incidence of 6 cases per million inhabitants per year) were classified as true infections. The most common species was Cutibacterium acnes (87%), and the majority were elderly men with comorbidities. Patients with true Cutibacterium infection often had an unknown focus of infection (n = 21) or a focus in the respiratory tract (n = 18). We identified one episode of ventriculo-peritoneal shunt infection, three episodes of aortic stent-graft infection, and one episode of infective endocarditis. Two patients, where Cutibacterium was isolated at the site of infection, had only one positive blood culture. The finding of positive Cutibacterium blood cultures should not always be considered contamination. Definitions of true Cutibacterium bacteremia with a demand that more than one blood culture must be positive may miss true infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1037
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number7
Early online date2022 May 25
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Infectious Medicine
  • Microbiology in the medical area
  • Clinical Laboratory Medicine


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