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J Infect. 2012 Mar;64(3):260-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2011.12.009. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Actinobaculum schaalii: review of an emerging uropathogen.

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Centre National de Référence de la Résistance aux Antibiotiques, Laboratoire associé Entérocoques, Service de Microbiologie, CHU Côte de Nacre, Av. Côte de Nacre, 14033 Caen Cedex 9, France.


Actinobaculum schaalii is a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive rod-shaped species phylogenetically related to Actinomyces that is likely part of the commensal flora of the human genitourinary tract. Because of its fastidious growth under aerobic conditions and its resemblance to bacteria of the resident flora, A. schaalii is frequently overlooked or considered as a contaminant. It is also difficult to identify phenotypically, still requiring molecular identification. Note that the recent technology of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight-mass spectrometry could be a promising tool for its identification. Recent studies using sensitive PCR assays showed that its clinical significance was largely underestimated. Since its first description in 1997, A. schaalii has been responsible for numerous urinary tract infections (UTIs), mainly in elderly (usually >60 years) and patients with underlying urological conditions. Infected urines usually show many Gram-positive rods with significant leukocyturia and a negative test for nitrites. Numerous cases of severe infections have also been described, such as urosepsis, bacteremia, cellulitis, spondylodiscitis, and endocarditis. In vitro, A. schaalii is highly susceptible to β-lactams but it is resistant to ciprofloxacin and cotrimoxazole, first-choice antimicrobials for the oral treatment of UTIs. A penicillin (e.g. amoxicillin) or a cephalosporin (e.g. cefuroxime, ceftriaxone) should be the preferred treatment.

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