Journal Article

Late-Onset Posttraumatic Skin and Soft-Tissue Infections Caused by Rapid-Growing Mycobacteria in Tsunami Survivors

Pia Appelgren, Filip Farnebo, Leif Dotevall, Marie Studahl, Bodil Jönsson and Bjorn Petrini

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 47, issue 2, pages e11-e16
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/589300
Late-Onset Posttraumatic Skin and Soft-Tissue Infections Caused by Rapid-Growing Mycobacteria in Tsunami Survivors

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Background. In the tsunami catastrophe in Thailand in 2004, several thousand Swedish tourists were injured, with contaminated crush trauma of the legs being the main cause of injury among the survivors.

Methods. Patient and laboratory data for those who received hospital care in Stockholm and Gothenburg and contracted late-onset infections due to rapid-growing mycobacteria were reviewed retrospectively. Also, concomitant infections were recorded.

Results. Fifteen patients with late-onset skin and soft-tissue infections due to rapid-growing mycobacteria are described here. Mycobacterium abscessus was isolated in 7 cases, Mycobacterium fortuitum was isolated in 6 cases, and Mycobacterium peregrinum and Mycobacterium mageritense were isolated in 1 case each. The infections appeared after a delay of 20–105 days (median, 60 days) after the trauma, targeting undamaged skin located near primary sutured wounds or skin grafts. Antimycobacterial drugs were given to 9 (60%) of the patients. The course of infection was protracted, but all infections due to rapid-growing mycobacteria healed within 12 months. Concomitant subcutaneous infections due to other microorganisms, such as Burkholderia pseudomallei or Cladophialophora bantiana, appeared early or late after the trauma.

Conclusions. Repeated cultures of abscess and wound specimens for Mycobacterium species may be needed to find the etiologic agents causing contaminated skin and soft-tissue infections, such as those that developed after traumas that occurred during the tsunami. These cultures are especially necessary when symptoms appear late and when conventional bacterial culture results are negative. A biopsy is recommended for the best yield and for complementary histopathological examination.

Journal Article.  3172 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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