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Campylobacter fetus infection presenting with bacteremia and cellulitis in a 72-year-old man with an implanted pacemaker: a case report

Dragan Ledina1*, Ivo Ivić1, Jakica Karanović2, Nenad Karanović3, Nikica Kuzmičić4, Dubravka Ledina5 and Željko Puljiz6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Split, Split, Croatia

2 Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, University Hospital Split, Split, Croatia

3 Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, University Hospital Split, Split, Croatia

4 General Hospital Pakrac, Pakrac, Croatia

5 Department of Oncology, University Hospital Split, Split, Croatia

6 Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Split, Split, Croatia

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:414  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-414

Published: 30 November 2012



Campylobacter is an important causative agent of intestinal infections in humans. Bacteremia is detected in less than 1% of patients, mainly in immunocompromised patients and in extreme age groups. Cellulitis is a relatively common manifestation of Campylobacter infection, but concomitant bacteremia is a rare event. Infections of the pacemaker area are caused primarily by staphylococci, followed by fungi, streptococci and Gram-negative rods. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case report of pacemaker pocket infection and bacteremia caused by Campylobacter fetus.

Case presentation

A 72-year-old Croatian Caucasian man with myelodysplasia, impaired fasting glucose levels and a recently implanted permanent pacemaker was admitted to hospital after six days of fever, development of red swelling of the pacemaker pocket area and worsening of his general condition. No antibiotic therapy was introduced in the outpatient setting. He denied any recent gastrointestinal disturbances. With the exception of an elevated leukocyte count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein and blood glucose levels, other laboratory findings were normal. Treatment with vancomycin plus netilmicin was introduced, and a surgical incision with drainage of the pacemaker pocket was performed. The entire pacemaker system was removed and a new one re-implanted after 14 days of antibiotic therapy. Transesophageal echocardiography showed no pathological findings. Three subsequent blood cultures obtained on admission as well as swab culture of the incised pacemaker area revealed Campylobacter fetus; stool and pacemaker lead cultures were negative. According to the microbiological results, antibiotic therapy was changed to ciprofloxacin plus netilmicin. A clinical examination and the results of a laboratory analysis performed after two weeks of therapy were within normal limits.


Myelodysplasia, impaired fasting glucose levels and older age could be contributing factors for the development of bacteremic Campylobacter fetus cellulitis. Emergent surgical and antibiotic treatment are mandatory and provide the optimal outcome for such types of pacemaker pocket infection.