PLoS One. 2020 Nov 23;15(11):e0242533. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242533. eCollection 2020.
PURPOSE: In the management of COVID-19, knowledge is lacking on the frequency of secondary bacterial infections and on how empirical antibiotic therapy should be used. In the present study, we aimed to compare blood culture (BC) results of a COVID-19 patient cohort with two cohorts of patients without detected COVID-19.
METHODS: Using a retrospective cohort study design of patients subjected to BC in six tertiary care hospitals, SARS-CoV-2 positive patients from March 1 to April 30 in 2020 (COVID-19 group) were compared to patients without confirmed SARS-CoV-2 during the same period (control group-2020) and with patients sampled March 1 to April 30 in 2019 (control group-2019). The outcomes studied were proportion of BC positivity, clinically relevant growth, and contaminant growth.
RESULTS: In total 15,103 patients and 17,865 BC episodes were studied. Clinically relevant growth was detected in 197/3,027 (6.5%) BC episodes in the COVID-19 group compared to 717/6,663 (10.8%) in control group-2020 (p<0.0001) and 850/8,175 (10.4%) in control group-2019 (p<0.0001). Contamination was present in 255/3,027 (8.4%) BC episodes in the COVID-19 group compared to 330/6,663 (5.0%) in control group-2020 (p<0.0001) and 354/8,175 (4.3%) in control group-2019 (p<0.0001).
CONCLUSION: In COVID-19 patients, the prevalence of bloodstream bacterial infection is low and the contamination rate of BC is high. This knowledge should influence guidelines regarding blood culture sampling and empirical antibiotic therapy in COVID-19 patients.