Obligate anaerobic bacteria are considered important constituents of the microbiota of humans; in addition, they are also important etiological agents in some focal or invasive infections and bacteremia with a high level of mortality. Conflicting data have accumulated over the last decades regarding the extent in which these pathogens play an intrinsic role in bloodstream infections. Clinical characteristics of anaerobic bloodstream infections do not differ from bacteremia caused by other pathogens, but due to their longer generation time and rigorous growth requirements, it usually takes longer to establish the etiological diagnosis. The introduction of matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has represented a technological revolution in microbiological diagnostics, which has allowed for the fast, accurate and reliable identification of anaerobic bacteria at a low sample cost. The purpose of this review article is to summarize the currently available literature data on the prevalence of anaerobic bacteremia in adults for physicians and clinical microbiologists and to shed some light on the complexity of this topic nowadays.
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