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West J Med. 1979 Mar;130(3):200-4.

Skin and soft tissue polymicrobial infections from intravenous abuse of drugs.


Skin and soft tissue infections were studied in 21 seriously ill narcotic addicts who had been admitted to hospital. Subcutaneous abscesses were present in 14 patients; cellulitis was noted in 3, pyomyositis in 2 and necrotizing fasciitis in 2. In four patients there was septicemia. Infections in 14 patients (66.6 percent) were associated with anaerobic bacteria, which were the exclusive isolates in 6 patients. In seven patients (33.3 percent) isolates were exclusively aerobic bacteria and in eight both aerobes and anaerobes were present. The anaerobic isolates were clostridia (six), peptostreptococci (five), bacteroides (five), peptococci (three), and one of each of Veillonella, Propionibacterium, Eubacterium, Fusobacterium and Actinomyces. Staphylococcus aureus, generally thought to be the most common cause of subcutaneous infections in addicts, was found only in four (19 percent) patients. The other aerobic isolates were Klebsiella (five) and Enterobacter (four) species. When clinical features or the Gram stain of pus suggest that anaerobic bacteria may be present, antibiotic therapy should be directed against both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria until culture results are available.

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