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Case Reports in Infectious Diseases
Volume 2012, Article ID 841834, 4 pages
Case Report

A Mysterious Gram-Positive Rods

Department of Internal Medicine, MedStar Harbor Hospital, 3001 South Hanover Street, Baltimore, MD 21225, USA

Received 29 March 2012; Accepted 8 July 2012

Academic Editors: L. M. Bush, V. Misra, S. Talhari, and W. I. van der Meijden

Copyright © 2012 Javzandulam Natsag et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We encountered a patient with a history of intravenous drug use presenting with fever, malaise and nausea who was found to have cavitary lung lesions. Unexpectedly, gram positive rods grew out on day five on multiple blood cultures, which were later identified as Mycobacterium fortuitum. The patient underwent transesophageal echocardiogram, which showed aortic and tricuspid valve vegetations. Liver biopsy demonstrated granulomatous hepatitis. Interestingly, serum alkaline phosphatase level fell with antibiotic treatment. Mycobacterium fortuitum is ubiquitous worldwide, being found in tap water, and soil. M. fortuitum is usually considered as a contaminant. Disseminated infection caused by this bacterium in an immunocompetent host is extremely rare. Most of the disseminated infections have been reported in immune-deficient patients. In immunocompetent people, M. fortuitum causes human infection primarily by direct inoculation, including localized post-traumatic and surgical wound infections, and catheter-related sepsis. Our patient, an HIV-negative intravenous drug user, had Mycobacterium fortuitum sepsis associated with infective endocarditis, septic pulmonary emboli, and granulomatous hepatitis. Interestingly, the patient admitted using tap water occasionally for mixing heroin when her sterile water ran out, which we thought was the likely source of M. fortuitum.