Nocardia bacteremia. Report of 4 cases and review of the literature

Medicine (Baltimore). 1998 Jul;77(4):255-67. doi: 10.1097/00005792-199807000-00004.


Bacteremic nocardiosis is reported rarely. We discuss 4 recent cases seen at our institution and 32 other cases described in the English literature. We found that patients with bacteremic nocardiosis were similar in presentation, risk factors, course, and therapeutic outcome to nonbacteremic patients with nocardiosis. The presence of endovascular foreign bodies appeared to be the only unique risk factor associated with bacteremic illness. Seeding of the central nervous system appeared to be relatively uncommon. Thirty percent of patients with nocardemia had concomitant bacteremia with other pathogens, mostly Gram-negative organisms. Nocardia grew in a variety of growth media, and the median incubation time to detection was 4 days. Fifty percent of patients with Nocardia bacteremia died. Positive blood cultures were a preterminal finding in the fatal, acute cases and occurred relatively early in the subacute, nonfatal cases. Poor outcome seemed to correlate with acute onset of nocardiosis (duration less than 1 month), late identification of nocardemia, involvement of more than 2 sites, and the lack of treatment with a sulfonamide-containing regimen.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / complications
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / complications
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nocardia Infections / complications
  • Nocardia Infections / drug therapy
  • Nocardia Infections / microbiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents