Chromobacterium violaceum in Northern Australia: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

Alice Young Department of Intensive Care, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia;

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Simon Smith Department of Medicine, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia;
James Cook University, Cairns, Australia;

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Peter Horne Tropical Public Health Unit, Cairns, Australia;

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Bronwyn Thomsett Pathology Queensland, Cairns, Australia;

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Josh Hanson Department of Medicine, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia;
The Kirby Institute, Sydney, Australia

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In many parts of the world, the case-fatality rate of Chromobacterium violaceum infection approaches 60%. To evaluate the spectrum of disease associated with C. violaceum in Far North Queensland (FNQ), Australia, we reviewed all culture-confirmed isolates from 1997 to 2017. There were 28 isolates, 15 represented infection, 11 were contaminants, and two charts were destroyed preventing detailed evaluation of these cases. The most common sites of infection were the skin and soft tissue and the urinary tract; there were two cases of bacteremia without focus. There were no deaths attributable to C. violaceum during the study period and only two cases required intensive care unit support, although in both patients this was not for the C. violaceum infection, but for the management of other health issues. Globally, C. violaceum has a reputation as a deadly pathogen, but in FNQ, Australia, infections usually follow a relatively benign course.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Josh Hanson, The Kirby Institute, Wallace Wurth Building, University of New South Wales 2052, Australia. E-mail: jhanson@kirby.unsw.edu.au

Authors’ addresses: Alice Young, Intensive Care, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia, E-mail: alice.young@health.qld.gov.au. Simon Smith, Department of Medicine, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia, E-mail: simon.smith2@health.qld.gov.au. Peter Horne, Tropical Public Health Unit, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Australia, E-mail: peter.horne@health.qld.gov.au. Bronwyn Thomsett, Pathology Department, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia, E-mail: bronwyn.thomsett@health.qld.gov.au. Josh Hanson, The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and General Medicine, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Australia, E-mail: jhanson@kirby.unsw.edu.au.

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