Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Case report
Corynebacterium diphtheriae bloodstream infection: the role of antitoxin
  1. Una Sutton-Fitzpatrick1,
  2. Conor Grant2,
  3. Dimitar Nashev1 and
  4. Catherine Fleming2
  1. 1 Clinical Microbiology, Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland
  2. 2 Infectious Diseases, Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Una Sutton-Fitzpatrick; suttonfu{at}


A 65-year-old male patient presented with fever, fast atrial fibrillation and frank haematuria on return to Ireland from travel in East Africa. He had a systolic murmur leading to a clinical suspicion of endocarditis. He had no specific clinical features of diphtheria. Blood cultures were taken and empiric therapy commenced with benzylpenicillin, vancomycin and gentamicin. Corynebacterium diphtheriae was detected on blood culture. The isolate was submitted to a reference laboratory for evaluation of toxigenicity. While initially there was concern regarding the possibility of myocarditis, a clinical decision was made not to administer diphtheria antitoxin in the absence of clinical features of respiratory diphtheria, in the presence of invasive infection and with presumptive previous immunisation. There is no specific guidance on the role of antitoxin in this setting. The issue is not generally addressed in previous reports of C. diphtheriae blood stream infection.

  • infectious diseases
  • tropical medicine (infectious disease)
  • vaccination/immunisation
  • valvar diseases
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors US-F and CG contributed equally to this paper. Both of these authors were involved in treating the patient and drafting the case report as well as doing final edits. DN was involved in treating this patient as well as critically reviewing this case report. CF was involved in treating this patient and critically reviewed this case report and suggested changes for the final edit. All authors approved the final version and are in agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.