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Clin Infect Dis. 1995 Jun;20 Suppl 2:S279-82.

Bacteriology of skin and soft-tissue infections: comparison of infections in intravenous drug users and individuals with no history of intravenous drug use.

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Wadsworth Anaerobic Bacteriology Laboratory, Wadsworth Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90073, USA.


The bacteriology of cutaneous or subcutaneous abscesses (86 specimens) among intravenous drug users (IVDUs) was compared with the bacteriology of abscesses (74 specimens) in patients with no history of intravenous drug use (non-IVDUs). The IVDU abscesses yielded 173 aerobes and 131 anaerobes. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common aerobe isolated (50% of specimens yielded this isolate), followed by "Streptococcus milleri" (46%). The commonly encountered anaerobes were Fusobacterium nucleatum (17%), pigmented Prevotella species (22%), Peptostreptococcus micros (17%), Actinomyces odontolyticus (15%), and Veillonella species (13%). The non-IVDU isolates included 116 aerobes and 106 anaerobes. S. aureus was isolated from 53% of these specimens, followed by coagulase-negative staphylococci (19%), "S. milleri" (19%), and Streptococcus pyogenes (16%). The main groups of anaerobes were Peptostreptococcus species (35%), Bacteroides species (19%), and gram-positive bacilli (31%). Overall, 67% of the IVDU isolates were of oral origin, compared with 25% of the non-IVDU isolates. Of the specimens from IVDUs and non-IVDUs, 48% and 67%, respectively, yielded only aerobes, and 2% and 4%, respectively, yielded only anaerobes. Sixty-four percent of the patients had one or more beta-lactamase-producing organisms.

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