To compare the characteristics of bacteremic infections by different aerobic gram-negative bacilli (GNB) in patients with hematologic malignancies, we studied 54 consecutive monomicrobial bacteremias by Enterobacteriaceae (EB), 15 by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 43 by other non-glucose-fermenting GNB (NGFGNB) and 11 by other GNB. Patients with EB and P. aeruginosa bacteremia usually developed the infection after intensive chemotherapy for leukemia or during a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, while most infections in outpatients off therapy were due to NGFGNB. A significant proportion of bacteremias by EB (37%) and P. aeruginosa (40%) were accompanied by severe morbidity (septic shock, pneumonia or deep-seated organ infections) vs. only 7% of other NGFGNB (p < 0.01). Most infections by these latter bacteria were catheter-related bacteremias (80 vs. 2% of EB, p < 0.005), while most EB infections (61%) were uncomplicated bacteremias of unknown source (vs. 14% of other NGFGNB, p < 0.005). Appropriate antibiotics alone cured 98% of EB and 73% of P. aeruginosa bacteremias but only 26% of other NGFGNB (p < 0.005 for both differences), which were cured by catheter removal in 70%, usually after failure of antibiotic treatment. In conclusion, our results suggest that there are significant differences in the patient populations and clinical characteristics of bacteremic infections by the classic GNB (EB and P. aeruginosa) and the new NGFGNB in adults with hematologic malignancies.

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