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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Stenotrophomonas maltophilia

Other Names for this Disease
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia bacteremia
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Your Question

Please tell me something about this. Is it life threatening? My nephew has been diagnosed with this. He works in a nursing home. Had 2 ear infections, pus in his eyes, a cough, orange urine, and fatigue.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Stenotrophomonas maltophilia?

Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (S. maltophilia) is a type of bacterium that is found in various natural environments (such as soil, water and plants), but also occurs in the hospital environment and may cause infections including those that affect the bloodstream, respiratory tract, urinary tract and surgical-sites.[1] Infections are uncommon and typically only occur in individuals with severely impaired immune systems.[1] Risk factors in hospitalized individuals may include prior exposure to antimicrobials, mechanical ventilation, and prolonged hospitalization.[1] It typically grows and spreads through medical devices, hospital fluids (such as irrigation solutions or IV fluids) or patient secretions, but does not readily spread between patients.[2][1] S. maltophilia does not respond to many antibiotics but most strains are susceptible to co-trimoxazole treatment.[1]
Last updated: 3/2/2012

What are the signs and symptoms of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia?

Signs and symptoms of S. maltophilia infections are generally related to the organ system(s) involved.[2] The most common manifestations of infection are pneumonia and bacteremia. Less common manifestations include endocarditis, mastoiditis, peritonitis, meningitis, soft tissue infection, wound infection, urinary tract infection, and ocular (eye) infection. S. maltophilia can adhere to the surfaces of the upper airway and may colonize areas without causing infection; in some cases, it may be hard to determine whether colonization or actual infection is present.[3]
Last updated: 3/2/2012

What causes Stenotrophomonas maltophilia?

S. maltophilia is a water organism which survives and multiplies in hospital environments such as respiratory secretions, urine, intravenous (IV) fluids, and irrigant solutions. Contamination may spread in a variety of ways. Sources of colonization may include personnel, hands, antiseptic soaps, hand lotion, respiratory equipment and/or fluids, ultrasonic nebulizers, inhalation medications, respirator tubing, IV lines and/or fluids, central venous catheters, pressure monitoring devices, urine, and other sources. Infections typically only occur in individuals with severely impaired immune systems. Factors that increase an individual's risk for S. maltophilia infection include admission to an intensive care unit, prolonged hospitalization, HIV infection, cancer, cystic fibrosis, neutropenia, mechanical ventilation, recent surgery, trauma, and previous therapy with broad-spectrum antibiotics.[3][2][1]
Last updated: 3/2/2012

How might Stenotrophomonas maltophilia be treated?

S. maltophilia is resistant to many antibiotics. The recommended therapy is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (also called co-trimoxazole, or TMP-SMX). The duration of therapy depends on the site of infection. Other medications to which the organism is usually sensitive include meropenem, ticarcillin-clavulanic acid, levofloxacin, gatifloxacin, moxifloxacin, minocycline, tigecycline, polymyxins (ie, colistin sulfate), and rifampicin.[3][2] Combination therapy may be necessary in life-threatening cases.

More detailed information about medications used to treat S. maltophilia infection is available on eMedicine's Web site and can be viewed by clicking here.

This information is intended for informational purposes only; individuals seeking treatment for S. maltophilia infection should consult with their health care provider.
Last updated: 3/2/2012

Is Stenotrophomonas maltophilia life-threatening?

S. maltophilia infection can be life-threatening in some cases. Stenotrophomonas infections have been associated with high morbidity and mortality in individuals with severely compromised immune systems and/or debilitation. Estimates of mortality associated with infection range from 21 to 69 percent. However, the actual mortality attributed to infection is unclear due to many other variables present (such as reasons for hospitalization or underlying illness) in many affected individuals.[3]
Last updated: 3/2/2012