Disseminated nontuberculous mycobacterial infections in sickle cell anemia patients

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2006 Oct;28(10):678-81. doi: 10.1097/01.mph.0000243646.59111.28.


Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are ubiquitous in nature and have been implicated in skin/soft-tissue, pulmonary, middle ear, bone, and surgical/traumatic wound infections. Disseminated disease occurs infrequently and almost exclusively in the immunocompromised. We describe the first 2 reported cases of disseminated Mycobacterium fortuitum infection in teenagers with sickle hemoglobinopathy. Both had central venous catheters (CVCs), frequent admissions for vaso-occlusive painful episode and received hydroxyurea. Diagnosis was confirmed by multiple positive blood cultures and pulmonary dissemination occurred in both. Both had successful treatment after CVC removal and combination drug therapy. Positive cultures persisted in 1 patient due to drug resistance emphasizing the need for accurate susceptibility data. NTM infection should be added to the list of pathogens in sickle cell patients with CVCs and fever. Investigation for disseminated disease should be undertaken based on clinical signs and symptoms. Although some routine blood culture systems can identify NTM, specific mycobacterial blood culture is optimal. Removal of involved CVCs is essential and treatment of NTM must be guided by susceptibilities. As dissemination almost always occurs in those with impaired cellular immunity, human immunodeficiency virus testing should be performed. Hydroxyurea may be a risk factor for dissemination and needs further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Amikacin / therapeutic use
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / drug therapy
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cefoxitin / therapeutic use
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Clarithromycin / therapeutic use
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / adverse effects
  • Linezolid
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mycobacterium Infections / diagnosis*
  • Mycobacterium Infections / drug therapy*
  • Mycobacterium Infections / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium fortuitum / isolation & purification
  • Oxazolidinones / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Acetamides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oxazolidinones
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Cefoxitin
  • Amikacin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Linezolid
  • Doxycycline
  • Hydroxyurea