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J Paediatr Child Health. 2002 Feb;38(1):63-5.

Pseudomonas fluorescens pseudobacteraemia: a cautionary lesson.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Townsville General Hospital, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.



To describe an outbreak of pseudobacteraemia caused by Pseudomonas fluorescens in a paediatric population. To document and highlight the effect this outbreak had on clinical management and the steps taken to determine the source.


A clinical and microbiological investigation was carried out into a cluster of 38 pseudobacteraemias caused by Pseudomonas fluorescens in paediatric patients over a 10 month period.


The source of the outbreak of pseudobacteraemia was found to be contaminated lithium heparin tubes, which were being filled prior to the filling of the blood culture bottle. Cultures of the same tubes yielded Pseudomonas fluorescens. As a result of the initial positive blood cultures, clinical management was altered in 18 cases. A staff education programme was instituted and eventually resulted in a cessation of the pseudobacteraemia.


Pseudobacteraemias are a major cause of potentially inappropriate therapy in febrile children. Attention to detail in the collection of blood cultures can help reduce this outcome. Staff involved in the collection of blood cultures need to be aware of this potential source of contamination.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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