Purpose, patients, and methods: Malassezia furfur has usually been described as a cause of catheter-related sepsis in neonates receiving intravenous lipid emulsion. We report seven cases of catheter-related M. furfur fungemia that occurred in seven immunocompromised patients including four adults and three children who were not neonates. Only two of these patients were receiving concurrent intravenous lipid emulsion.
Results: All positive blood cultures were obtained from a central venous access device, one of which was a port device. Quantitative M. furfur colony counts ranged from 50 cfu/mL to greater than 1,000 cfu/mL. All seven patients were treated with amphotericin B. Blood drawn through the central lines of three patients yielded additional organisms. One central venous access device required removal due to persistently positive M. furfur blood cultures despite treatment with amphotericin B.
Conclusion: We conclude that catheter-related M. furfur fungemia occurs in immunocompromised patients with central venous access devices whether or not they are receiving intravenous lipids. Prompt, aggressive treatment with amphotericin B (1 mg/kg/d) may spare patients removal of their central venous access device. Further studies are needed to determine the role of endogenous lipids in the development of catheter-related M. furfur fungemia and to determine if there is a seasonal incidence in populations other than neonates, since all of our cases occurred between late March and July.