Background: During 1974-1988, the incidence of anaerobic bacteremia at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) decreased. This trend occurred nationally, prompting calls for discontinuation of routine anaerobic blood cultures. However, recently, the sites of anaerobic infection have been shown not to be as predictable as once thought, and since 1993, the incidence of anaerobic bacteremia has increased significantly in our medical center.
Methods: Records from the Mayo Clinic Division of Clinical Microbiology were used to tabulate the number of cases of anaerobic bacteremia in patients at the clinic for the 12-year period from 1993 through 2004. Medical records for patients with anaerobic bacteremia were reviewed from the periods of 1993-1994 and 2004 to identify differences between these 2 patient populations with different rates of bacteremia.
Results: The mean incidence of anaerobic bacteremias increased from 53 cases per year during 1993-1996 to 75 cases per year during 1997-2000 to 91 cases per year during 2001-2004 (an overall increase of 74%). The total number of cases of anaerobic bacteremia per 100,000 patient-days increased by 74% (P<.001). The number of anaerobic blood cultures per 1000 cultures performed increased by 30% (P=.002). Organisms from the Bacteroides fragilis group, other species of Bacteroides, and Clostridium species were most commonly isolated.
Conclusions: Anaerobic bacteremia has reemerged as a significant clinical problem. Although there are probably multiple reasons for this change, the increasing number of patients with complex underlying diseases makes the clinical context for anaerobic infections less predictable than it once was. Anaerobic blood cultures should be routinely performed in medical centers with a patient population similar to ours.