Backgrounds: Febrile neutropaenia is a common complication of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
Empirical antibiotic regimes are based on the epidemiological characteristics of bacterial isolates globally and locally.
Method: This study retrospectively reviewed all cases of febrile neutropaenia in patients with confirmed cancer admitted at the University Hospital of the West Indies in the four-year period between, January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2006 and who received chemotherapy. Cases were identified from blood culture records and hospital charts which were reviewed to determine the aetiological agents causing bacteraemia, their antimicrobial susceptibilities and clinical features. These cases were compared with non-neutropaenic cancer patients admitted with fever.
Results: A total of 197 febrile episodes in cancer patients were reviewed. Thirty-seven per cent had febrile neutropaenia while 62% were non-neutropaenic. Acute myeloid leukaemia was the most common haematological malignancy and the most common solid tumour was breast cancer. Twenty-six per cent of patients had a positive blood culture.
In febrile neutropaenic patients, Escherichia coli was the most common organism isolated followed by coagulase-negative staphylococci while in non-neutropaenic patients, coagulase-negative staphylococci was most common. Acinetobacter infections was prominent in non-neutropaenic patients but absent in neutropaenic patients. More than one organism was cultured in 9 neutropaenic and 18 nonneutropaenic patients. Mortality was 10.8% in neutropaenic and 24.4% in non-neutropaenic patients.
Conclusion: Gram-negative organisms are the predominant isolates in febrile neutropaenic episodes in this cohort of patients. Non-neutropaenic patients had an increased mortality with an increase in Acinetobacter infections and multiple isolates.