Newer methodologies for detecting bacteria in blood are more sensitive than conventional procedures. The possibility of contamination from a variety of sources is discussed. The problem of interpreting the findings of some of these techniques is forcing the microbiologist and clinician to reevaluate previously held ideas regarding isolates that are considered insignificant. The aggressive use of foreign bodies, whether of short duration such as central venous catheters or of long duration such as prosthetic heart valves, predisposes patients to a wide variety of infectious complications that are often associated with bacteremia. Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium species (particularly group JK), Bacillus species, and S. aureus are discussed.
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