Erysipelothrix spp

From Dog

Erysipelothrix are a group of zoonotic Gram-positive facultative anaerobes found worldwide and are most commonly associated with erysipelas in swine.

A few rare cases of canine infections have been reported associated with disseminated infection associated with concurrent immunosuppression, despite seroepidemiological surveys in some countries showing urban stray dogs having a relatively significant (5%) antibody titre to the bacteria[1].

Species which have been reported in dogs include:

  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
  • Erysipelothrix tonsillarum[2]

Affected dogs often have a history of treatment with immunosuppressive medication such as prednisolone for pre-existing conditions such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia[3].

A history of having eaten raw bird carcases may be evident.

Clinical symptoms include lameness, fever, lethargy, dyspnea, anorexia and erythematous skin lesions, particularly petechiae and ecchymoses of the abdominal skin and genitals[4].

Bacteremia results in various disease syndromes such as dermatopathy, endocarditis[5][6], vertebral osteomyelitis[7] and septic polyarthritis.

Blood cultures are usually diagnostic, with speciation available via PCR assays in various reference laboratories[8].

Treatment is usually effective with broad-spectrum antimicrobials such as amoxycillin/clavulanate, but a guarded prognosis should be considered in cases with complicating organ pathology.


  1. Shimazaki Y et al (2005) Detection of antibodies to Erysipelothrix in stray dogs in Japan. Acta Vet Scand 46(3):159-161
  2. Schrauwen E et al (1993) Erysipelothrix tonsillarum endocarditis in a dog. Vlaams Diergeneeskd Tijdschr 62:160–161
  3. Foster JD et al (2012) A case of apparent canine erysipeloid associated with Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae bacteraemia. Vet Dermatol 23(6):528
  4. Seelig U et al (2010) Septic polyarthritis caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae in a dog. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 23(1):71-73
  5. Eriksen K et al (1987) Endocarditis in two dogs caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. J Small Anim Pract 28:117–123
  6. Hoenig M & Gillette DM (1980) Endocarditis caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae in a dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc 176:326–327
  7. Golini L et al (2012) Successful medical treatment of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae-induced lumbosacral diskospondylitis in a dog. Vet Rec 170(21):543
  8. Takahasi T et al' (2000) Taxonomic evidence that serovar 7 of Erysipelothrix strains isolated from dogs with endocarditis are Erysipelothrix tonsillarum. J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health 47(4):311-313