Skin flora is an important source of microorganisms that cause infective endocarditis. While staphylococcal and beta-hemolytic streptococcal species are well-recognized components of skin flora that can cause infective endocarditis, other skin flora rarely produce endocardial infection. One species of Corynebacterium has received the most attention, Corynebacterium jeikeium. This bacterium, a gram-positive rod that is a strict aerobe, is known to cause mechanical prosthetic valve infection and vancomycin is generally required for treatment of this multidrug-resistant organism. Following treatment of an unusual case of bioprosthetic valve endocarditis due to C. jeikeium, a Medline search for English-language articles published from January 1966 to October 2004 was performed. Reports of C. jeikeium endocarditis cases with culture of either blood or cardiac surgery tissue samples positive for C. jeikeium and with clinical and echocardiographic findings of infective endocarditis were reviewed. Clinical data and results of diagnostic procedures were examined. All 38 patients with C. jeikeium endocarditis reported in the literature had at least one predisposing condition for the development of infective endocarditis. The majority of patients (74%) had involvement of a prosthetic heart valve. The mortality attributed to C. jeikeium endocarditis was 33% and was similar in patients who did and did not undergo valve replacement. This relatively high mortality rate mandates that clinicians be aware of this rare endocardial infection. C. jeikeium is a rare cause of endocarditis and it more commonly infects prosthetic valves. Careful scrutiny is required when C. jeikeium is isolated from a blood culture, particularly in patients with underlying prosthetic cardiac valves.
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