Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a pathogenic micro-organism which can infect a wide variety (over 50 species) of animals including vertebrates and non-vertebrates, from house flies to wild bears. It is especially common in domesticated pigs which can carry the organism and excrete it in their faeces without showing any external signs of infection, and a source of infection to humans are fish and marine animals.
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a non-motile, gram positive, nonsporulating rod and it is a facultative anaerobe. Growth of this organism is improved by 5-10% CO2. This micro-organism occurs in a variety of configurations including short chains, in pairs, in a "V" configuration and in random groups. Virulence varies between different strains of this organisms, so-called "smooth" strains are pathogenic but "rough" forms are not.
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae usually enters its host through scratches or puncture wounds on the surface of the skin. The organism is resistant in the environment, and it is likely to be found in faecally contaminated environments, especially sewage and soil.
Four forms of the clinical effects of this organism (a disease called Swine Erysipelas) have been identified in pigs, and they occur worldwide :
In sheep and lambs, and cattle Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causes joint infection (called Joint Ill).
In birds (Ducks and Turkeys) the disease causes sudden deaths due to septicaemia
Diagnosis is confirmed based upon isolation of the organisms from tissue biopsies or blood
A vaccine is available against Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae infection in pigs, sheep and turkeys
The organism is sensitive to the following antibiotics :
It is resistant to :
Updated January 2016