A Case Series of Serratia Marcescens in Persons Who Inject Drugs

Serratia marcescens is a gram-negative bacillus that is widespread in the environment and has been recognized as a rare cause of infective endocarditis (IE), particularly in persons who inject drugs (PWID). The literature consists of a 19 person case series in the 1970s followed by just a handful of case reports and small case series. At AHWFB (Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist), we have noticed an increasing number of severe infections, including IE, with Serratia marcescens in PWID. We aimed to gather data on the population that is getting this infection, the clinical characteristics of the infection, and its treatment at our facility.

Public Health

November 4, 2022

Our second year Infectious Diseases fellow Dr. Cook presented this work on serratia endocarditis at 2022 IDWeek in Washington DC! Here at AHWFB Health we have been seeing an increasing number of infections of the heart due to the bacteria Serratia marcescens in persons who inject drugs. This is a reddish-orange bacteria commonly found in soil and water that is not a usual cause of serious infections. The biggest series of cases of heart infections caused by this organism published in the literature in California in the 1970s but few reports have followed since. This bacteria belongs to a family of bacteria (the Gram Negative bacteria) that are less likely to cause heart infections than bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococci (the Gram Positive bacteria) which are skin and mouth. These latter bacteria are still the most common cause of heart infections in both persons who do and do not inject drugs. We do not know what has caused this increase in Serratia heart infections but we believe that other centers in the Southeast are seeing similar increases. We look forward to collaborating with our infectious colleagues across the nation to unravel how and why these infections are occurring and how best to treat them!

Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serratia_marcescens#/media/File:Serratia_marcescens.jpg



BibTeX citation:
  author = {Cook, Julia and B. Anderson, Matthew and Barnes, Erin},
  title = {A {Case} {Series} of {Serratia} {Marcescens} in {Persons}
    {Who} {Inject} {Drugs}},
  booktitle = {IDWeek2022},
  date = {2022-11-04},
  url = {https://wakeforestid.com/posts/2022-11-04-serratia},
  doi = {10.5281/zenodo.7277381},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
Cook, Julia, Matthew B. Anderson, and Erin Barnes. 2022. “A Case Series of Serratia Marcescens in Persons Who Inject Drugs.” In IDWeek2022. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7277381.