Biofilm infection of a central venous port-catheter caused by Mycobacterium avium complex in an immunocompetent child with cystic fibrosis

Background: Mycobacterium (M.) chimaera is a non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) that belongs to M. avium complex (MAC). In patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), MAC can cause bronchopulmonary infections that can be prolonged and difficult to treat. MAC infections of sites other than the lungs or central catheters are rare and almost exclusively associated with immunodeficiency.

Case presentation: We present a case of an 8-year-old CF patient (delF508 homozygous) with recurrent pulmonary exacerbations, gradual clinical deterioration, B-symptoms (fever, fatigue, weight loss, night sweat), elevated transaminases and intermittent detection of M. chimaera in the sputum without radiological signs of NTM-associated lung disease with a central venous port-catheter. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) revealed M. chimaera port infection that was also confirmed by mycobacterial culture. The patient recovered within 4 weeks after removal of the catheter and initiation of MAC targeted antimicrobial therapy. Electron microscopy of the catheter illustrated the presence of mycobacteria in a biofilm.

Conclusions: MAC central venous catheter infection needs to be considered in immunocompetent people. NGS is a valuable tool for rapid identification of rare infections. MAC capability of biofilm formation renders catheter removal the central therapeutic intervention for the clearance of the infection.


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