The role of anaerobic bacteria in bacteremia

Anaerobe. 2010 Jun;16(3):183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2009.12.001. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Anaerobic bacteria remain an important cause of bloodstream infections and account for 1-17% of positive blood cultures. This review summarizes the epidemiology, microbiology, predisposing conditions, and treatment of anaerobic bacteremia (AB) in newborns, children, adults and in patients undergoing dental procedures. The majority of AB are due to Gram-negative bacilli, mostly Bacteroides fragilis group. The other species causing AB include Peptostreptococcus, Clostridium spp., and Fusobacterium spp. Many of these infections are polymicrobial. AB in newborns is associated with prolonged labor, premature rupture of membranes, maternal amnionitis, prematurity, fetal distress, and respiratory difficulty. The predisposing conditions in children include: chronic debilitating disorders such as malignant neoplasm, hematologic abnormalities, immunodeficiencies, chronic renal insufficiency, or decubitus ulcers and carried a poor prognosis. Predisposing factors to AB in adults include malignant neoplasms, hematologic disorders, transplantation of organs, recent gastrointestinal or obstetric gynecologic surgery, intestinal obstruction, diabetes mellitus, post-splenectomy, use of cytotoxic agents or corticosteroids, and an undrained abscess. Early recognition and appropriate treatment of these infections are of great clinical importance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteremia / complications
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology*
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Risk Factors