People are infected when they have a puncture wound or scrape while they are handling infected animal matter.
Erysipeloid results in a purplish red, hardened rash that may itch, burn, and/or swell.
Doctors diagnose erysipeloid based on culture of a sample of infected tissue.
The infection can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
(See also Overview of Bacteria Overview of Bacteria Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms. They are among the earliest known life forms on earth. There are thousands of different kinds of bacteria, and they live in every conceivable... read more .)
Erysipelothrix bacteria are common worldwide and may infect a variety of animals, including shellfish, fish, birds, and mammals (especially swine), and insects.
People can become infected through a puncture wound or scrape that occurs while handling infected animal matter (such as infected carcasses or fish). Risk is increased for butchers, people who work in slaughter houses, farmers, cooks, and fishermen.
People can also become infected when they are bitten by an infected cat or dog.
Symptoms of Erysipeloid
A purplish red, hardened rash develops at the site of the injury. It may itch, burn, and/or swell. Swelling may interfere with use of the hand. Sometimes nearby lymph nodes become swollen. Symptoms may last for 3 weeks.
Rarely, the Erysipelothrix bacteria spread through the bloodstream and infects joints or heart valves.
Diagnosis of Erysipeloid
Culture and other tests of a sample of infected tissue
To diagnose erysipeloid, doctors may take a sample of tissue from the infected skin and send it to a laboratory where bacteria, if present, can be grown (cultured) and identified. If doctors suspect that a joint or heart valve is infected, they take a sample of joint fluid or blood and check it for the Erysipelothrix bacteria.
Doctors may use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique on the sample to increase the amount of the bacteria's genetic material (DNA). This technique helps doctors detect the bacteria more quickly.
Treatment of Erysipeloid
If erysipeloid involves only the skin, doctors usually give people antibiotics, such as penicillin or ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, or clindamycin, by mouth for a week.
If the Erysipelothrix bacteria have spread, doctors give antibiotics by vein for a longer time.
If a heart valve is infected, it often must be replaced.