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Scand J Infect Dis. 1996;28(5):463-7.

Rhodococcus equi infection in HIV-positive subjects: a retrospective analysis of 24 cases.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Rimini Hospital, Italy.


Rhodococcus equi causes a rare infection in immunocompromised hosts. We describe 24 cases of infection in patients with AIDS-related complex (ARC)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Pneumonia was always the first manifestation of R. equi infection, but extrapulmonary involvement was also observed. The main sources of bacteria were sputum, bronchial washings and blood. The strains isolated were mainly susceptible to erythromycin, vancomycin, teicoplanin, rifampicin, imipenem and aminoglycosides. Initial treatment should involve an intravenously administered antibiotic combination therapy including imipenem or vancomycin or teicoplanin, followed by orally administered maintenance combination therapy. Drug combinations should be investigated for serum bactericidal activity in vitro. Surgery does not increase survival time and should only be performed in cases that do not respond to antibiotic treatment. Presumptive risks of infection (contact with horses or farm dust, or cohabiting with people affected by R. equi infection) were present in more than 50% of patients. This finding, and the frequency of bacteria in the sputum, are not sufficient proof of transmission between humans, but do suggest the need for respiratory isolation of patients affected by R. equi pneumonia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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