Erysipeloid

Definition

Erysipeloid is a rare and acute infection of the skin caused by bacteria.

Causes

The bacteria that cause erysipeloid are called Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. This type of bacteria may be found in fish, birds, mammals, and shellfish. Erysipeloid usually affects people who work with these animals (such as farmers, butchers, cooks, grocers, fishermen or veterinarians). Infection results when the bacteria enter the skin through small breaks.

Symptoms

Symptoms may develop in 2 to 7 days after bacteria enter the skin. Usually, the fingers and hands are affected. But any exposed area of the body can get infected if there is a break in the skin. Symptoms may include:

The infection may spread to other fingers. It usually doesn't spread past the wrist.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will examine you. The provider can often make the diagnosis by looking at the infected skin and by asking how your symptoms started.

Tests that may be done to confirm the diagnosis include:

Treatment

Antibiotics, especially penicillin, are very effective to treat this condition.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Erysipeloid may get better on its own. It rarely spreads. If it does spread, the lining of the heart can become infected. This condition is called endocarditis. 

Prevention

Using gloves while handling or preparing fish or meat can prevent the infection.


Review Date: 10/14/2018
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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