Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae bloodstream infection – A 22-year experience at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota

E. M. Tan, J. R. Marcelin, N. Adeel, R. J. Lewis, M. J. Enzler, P. K. Tosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a facultatively anaerobic Gram-positive bacillus found mostly in swine, fish and sheep. E. rhusiopathiae classically causes cutaneous eruptions in butchers, fish handlers and veterinarians. Based solely on case reports, 90% of E. rhusiopathiae bloodstream infections (BSI) have been associated with infective endocarditis (IE). To assess the true frequency of IE in E. rhusiopathiae BSI as well as other clinical associations, we performed a retrospective cohort analysis of E. rhusiopathiae BSI at Mayo Clinic. This is a single-centre, retrospective study conducted between 1/1/1994 and 20/6/2016 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Medical records were reviewed for demographics, E. rhusiopathiae BSI, anti-microbial susceptibilities, incidence of IE, patient comorbidities, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and duration of antibiotics. Five cases of E. rhusiopathiae BSI were identified. Risk factors included animal exposures, immunosuppression, diabetes and kidney disease. All cases involved penicillin-sensitive strains and high-grade BSI. Four cases showed no signs of IE on transesophageal echocardiogram. All patients recovered fully with intravenous antibiotics. Our retrospective review illustrates that E. rhusiopathiae can cause invasive BSI in the absence of IE and that the previously reported 90% association between BSI and IE may be overestimated due to reporting bias. E. rhusiopathiae should be suspected in any patient with Gram-positive bacilli in blood cultures and the aforementioned risk factors. A limitation of our study was the low sample size, and future studies may involve multicentre collaborations and the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or serologic testing to increase the number of diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e65-e72
JournalZoonoses and Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
  • bacteremia
  • bloodstream infection bacteremia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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