Little is known about the behaviour of filamentous fungi in most blood culture systems, despite their increasingly recognised role in infections of immunocompromised hosts. The ability of the BacT/Alert system (Organon Teknika, Durham, North Carolina, USA) to detect the growth of 19 such fungi was examined. Eleven species grew and were detected rapidly; two species did not grow. Six species grew slowly, and were generally only recovered with terminal subculture after prolonged incubation. The CO2 production graph for some of these fungi showed a slow but steady rise, insufficient to cause the apparatus to signal positive. These results show that the BacT/Alert system may miss some fungi, either because of no growth in the medium or undetected slow growth. The latter problem could be overcome by prolonged incubation and terminal subculture when fungal infection is considered likely. Alteration of the signalling mechanism might permit earlier detection of some slow growing fungi.
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