Infective endocarditis due to unusual or fastidious microorganisms

Mayo Clin Proc. 1997 Jun;72(6):532-42. doi: 10.4065/72.6.532.


Infective endocarditis due to fastidious microorganisms is commonly encountered in clinical practice. Some organisms such as fungi account for up to 15% of cases of prosthetic valve infective endocarditis, whereas organisms of the HACEK group (Haemophilus parainfluenzae, H. aphrophilus, and H. paraphrophilus, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, and Kingella kingae) cause 3% of community-acquired cases of infective endocarditis. Special techniques are necessary to identify these microorganisms. A history of contact with mammals or birds may suggest infection caused by Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), Brucella species, or Chlamydia psittaci. A nosocomial cluster of postsurgical infective endocarditis may be caused by Legionella species or Mycobacterium species. If risk factors that are commonly associated with fungal infections (cardiac surgical treatment, prolonged hospitalization, indwelling central venous catheters, and long-term antibiotic use) are present, fungal endocarditis is possible. Patients with endocarditis and a history of periodontal disease or dental work in whom routine blood cultures are negative might have infection due to nutritionally variant streptococci or bacteria of the HACEK group. Communication between the microbiologist and the clinician is of crucial importance for identification of these microorganisms early during the course of the infection before complications such as embolization or valvular failure occur. In this article, we review the microbiologic and clinical features of these organisms and provide recommendations for diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bartonella Infections / complications
  • Brucellosis / complications
  • Corynebacterium Infections / complications
  • Endocarditis / microbiology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / microbiology*
  • Gonorrhea / complications
  • Humans
  • Legionellosis / complications
  • Listeriosis / complications
  • Mycoses / complications
  • Q Fever / complications


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents