Bacterial foodborne infections after hematopoietic cell transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2014 Nov;20(11):1856-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2014.06.034. Epub 2014 Jul 12.


Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever are common among patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), but such symptoms are also typical with foodborne infections. The burden of disease caused by foodborne infections in patients undergoing HCT is unknown. We sought to describe bacterial foodborne infection incidence after transplantation within a single-center population of HCT recipients. All HCT recipients who underwent transplantation from 2001 through 2011 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington were followed for 1 year after transplantation. Data were collected retrospectively using center databases, which include information from transplantation, on-site examinations, outside records, and collected laboratory data. Patients were considered to have a bacterial foodborne infection if Campylobacter jejuni/coli, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella species, Shigella species, Vibrio species, or Yersinia species were isolated in culture within 1 year after transplantation. Nonfoodborne infections with these agents and patients with pre-existing bacterial foodborne infection (within 30 days of transplantation) were excluded from analyses. A total of 12 of 4069 (.3%) patients developed a bacterial foodborne infection within 1 year after transplantation. Patients with infections had a median age at transplantation of 50.5 years (interquartile range [IQR], 35 to 57), and the majority were adults ≥18 years of age (9 of 12 [75%]), male gender (8 of 12 [67%]) and had allogeneic transplantation (8 of 12 [67%]). Infectious episodes occurred at an incidence rate of 1.0 per 100,000 patient-days (95% confidence interval, .5 to 1.7) and at a median of 50.5 days after transplantation (IQR, 26 to 58.5). The most frequent pathogen detected was C. jejuni/coli (5 of 12 [42%]) followed by Yersinia (3 of 12 [25%]), although Salmonella (2 of 12 [17%]) and Listeria (2 of 12 [17%]) showed equal frequencies; no cases of Shigella, Vibrio, or E. coli O157:H7 were detected. Most patients were diagnosed via stool (8 of 12 [67%]), fewer through blood (2 of 12 [17%]), 1 via both stool and blood simultaneously, and 1 through urine. Mortality due to bacterial foodborne infection was not observed during follow-up. Our large single-center study indicates that common bacterial foodborne infections were a rare complication after HCT, and the few cases that did occur resolved without complications. These data provide important baseline incidence for future studies evaluating dietary interventions for HCT patients.

Keywords: Bacteria; Campylobacter; Diet; Foodborne; Hematopoietic; Transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Foodborne Diseases / immunology*
  • Foodborne Diseases / microbiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / pathology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation Conditioning / adverse effects
  • Transplantation Conditioning / methods