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Open Access Open Badges Case report

Rhodococcus equi venous catheter infection: a case report and review of the literature

Rosalinda Guerrero1, Ashish Bhargava2 and Zeina Nahleh1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, TTUHSC-Paul L Foster School of Medicine, 4800 Alberta Avenue, El Paso, TX 79905, USA

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, 4100 John R, 4HWCRC, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:358  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-358

Published: 9 August 2011



Rhodococcus equi is an animal pathogen that was initially isolated from horses and is being increasingly reported as a cause of infection in humans with impaired cellular immunity. However, this pathogen is underestimated as a challenging antagonist and is frequently considered to be a mere contaminant despite the potential for life-threatening infections. Most case reports have occurred in immunocompromised patients who have received organ transplants (for example kidney, heart, bone marrow) or those with human immunodeficiency virus infection. Infections often manifest as pulmonary involvement or soft tissue abscesses. Bacteremia related to R. equi infections of tunneled central venous catheters has rarely been described.

Case presentation

We report the case of a 63-year-old non-transplant recipient, non-HIV infected Caucasian woman with endometrial carcinoma who developed recurrent bloodstream infections and septic shock due to R. equi and ultimately required the removal of her port catheter, a subcutaneous implantable central venous catheter. We also review the medical literature related to human infections with R. equi.


R. equi should be considered a serious pathogen, not a contaminant, particularly in an immunocompromised patient who presents with a central venous catheter-related bloodstream infection. Counseling patients with central venous catheters who participate in activities involving exposure to domesticated animals is recommended.