Bacteremia Due to Viridans Streptococci in Neutropenic Patients: A Review

Am J Med. 1994 Sep;97(3):256-64. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(94)90009-4.


Viridans streptococci have long been considered, with the exception of the ability to cause endocarditis, as minor pathogenic agents. More recently, however, these bacteria have become a major concern in neutropenic patients undergoing a chemotherapeutic treatment. In this high-risk population, they can be responsible for up to 39% of bacteremia cases and are the most frequent cause of this type of infection. The most frequently isolated species in blood cultures are Streptococcus mitis and Streptococcus sanguis II. Viridans streptococcus bacteremia can be accompanied by serious complications, like adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (3% to 33%), shock (7% to 18%) or endocarditis (7% to 8%). Mortality rates range from 6% to 30%. Case-control studies have identified the following risk factors: severe neutropenia (< 100 neutrophils/mm3), prophylactic antibiotic treatments with quinolone or co-trimoxazole, absence of intravenous antibiotics at the time of bacteremia, high doses of cytosine arabinoside, oropharyngeal mucositis, and heavy colonization by viridans streptococci. The introduction of penicillin in prophylactic antibiotic treatments has reduced the incidence of these infections, but the long-term use of penicillin could be compromised by the emergence of resistant strains.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control
  • Bacteremia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neutropenia / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Streptococcal Infections / therapy