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MM 185; ID 1005-1007


NAME OF DISEASE:     Erysipeloid


Direct contact between meat infected with Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae and traumatized human skin results in acquistion of erysipeloid. The dermal infection may lead to endocarditis and/or septic arthritis.

ORGANISM:    Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae

E. rhusiopathiae is a short Gram+ rod, non-sporeforming (smooth colony) or a long filamentous rod (rough colony). Non-motile. Growth is aided by blood and glucose. Antigenic pattern is not established. Late summer, early fall disease.


Infection with E. rhusiopathiae occurs in worldwide distribution in a variety of animals, especially hogs. This is an occupational disease. Infection in man follows skin abrasions from contact with fish, shellfish, meat and poultry. The infection, called erysipeloid, is usually limited to the skin (mainly hands and fingers). There are pain, edema and purplish erythema with sharp irregular margins which extends peripherally but clears centrally. Relapses and extensions of the lesions to distant areas are common, but there is no fever. Rare cases of endocarditis and septic arthritis have occurred. There is no permanent immunity following an attack. Self limiting.


Isolation of organism in culture from biopsy material. Typical clinical appearance in a person with occupational exposure is highly suggestive of infection due to this organism. Bacteria are deep in corium, about capillaries.


For skin infection, penicillin G, ampicillin or any 3rd generation cephalosporin. For endocarditis and/or septic arthritis use cefazolin.

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