Rhodococcus fascians infection after haematopoietic cell transplantation: not just a plant pathogen?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


JMM case reports, Volume 3, Issue 2, p.e005025 (2016)


INTRODUCTION: Rhodococcus spp. have been implicated in a variety of infections in immunocompromised and immunocompetent hosts. Rhodococcus equi is responsible for the majority of reported cases, but Rhodococcus erythropolis, Rhodococcusgordoniae and Rhodococcusruber infections have been described. There are no prior reports of human infection with Rhodococcus fascians.

CASE PRESENTATION: We describe the unexpected finding of R. fascians in liver lesions incidentally noted at autopsy in an immunosuppressed patient status after bone-marrow transplant for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia who died of unrelated causes (septic shock due to Clostridium difficile colitis). At autopsy, an otherwise unremarkable liver contained several dozen well-demarcated sclerotic-appearing lesions measuring 0.1-0.3 cm in size. The absence of other bacterial or fungal DNA in the setting of histologically visible organisms argues against its presence as a contaminant and raises the consideration that R. fascians represents a human pathogen for the immunocompromised.

CONCLUSION: Whether it represents the sole infectious agent responsible for the miliary lesions or a partially treated co-infection is impossible to determine, but our finding continues to reinforce the importance of molecular techniques in associating organisms with sites of infection and optimizing treatment of infectious diseases.