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Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease

Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease is a bacterial form of skin dermatitis. Erysipeloid is a very rare infection caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, also known as insidiosa, an acute bacterial infection of traumatized skin and other organs in animal and human infections. Erysipelas is the name given to the skin infection caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococci, although other streptococcal groups may be occasionally causative agents.

Erysipelas Picture

Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, also known as insidiosa, is a rod-shaped bacterium which was identified more than 100 years ago as the etiologic agent of swine erysipelas that cause infection in several dozen species of mammals and other animals, then humans through contact. Infection involves the dermis and lymphatic and is a more superficial subcutaneous infection of the skin than cellulitis. Erysipelas is characterized by intense erythema, indurations, and a sharply demarcated border, which differentiates it from other skin infections.

Erysipelas Picture

Humans acquire this disease directly through direct contact with meat infected and traumatized human skin that results in erysipeloid, but this condition is also present in animals. Infection is more likely to occur during the summer or early fall when the microorganism cause swine erysipelas more often and also several other diseases in poultry and sheep. Humans become infected through exposure to infected or contaminated animals or animal products. Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease is commonly seen in people who handle raw meat, especially pork and fish such as cooks, housewives, farmers, butchers, and fishermen. The bacteria gains entry through breaks in the skin and spreads well-demarcated purplish red lesion, usually on the fingers, hands or forearms, but there are no systemic symptoms associates with such disease.

Erysipelas tends to occur in areas where the lymphatic system is obstructed. There are several symptoms that precede the appearance of the rash, including fatigue, chills, anorexia, fever, and vomiting, then rash quickly appears as a bright red, hot, swollen, shiny patch that has clearly defined borders and easily identifiable by its consistency similar to an orange peel, also known as "peau d'orange". Precisely, this disease is diagnosed mainly by the appearance of such rash because blood tests and skin biopsies generally do not help make the diagnosis.

Depending on the nature of Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease, erysipelas swine is characterized by acute or sub-acute septicemia and chronic proliferate lesions. The acute disease has the bacteria in the animal’s circulation and causes severe lesions throughout the animal's body including skin and joint lesions, and heart lesions seen as a result of this infection. Animals less than 3 months of age or over 3 years of age are the less commonly affected. This infection occurs most frequently when susceptible pigs contact infected pigs that are shedding organisms. The majority of these animals do not show signs of the disease, (they have unrecognized) infections that transmit to humans.

Acute erysipelas, cause sudden onset, depression, reluctance to move, fevers, failure to eat and skin lesions in the form of Diamond Skin. Sub-acute erysipelas has similar symptoms as acute condition although less severe. Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease may be considered chronic erysipelas when it is seen three or more weeks after the initial infection and the signs exhibited result from the chronic proliferations typical of the disease. If the proliferations occur on the heart valves, then exercise intolerance is observed. If the proliferations occur in and around the joint surfaces, then stiffness and enlargements of those structures are present.

Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease is widespread over the world and particularly of real concern to the pot belly pig and to their owners. As in most diseases, prevention is much preferred to treatment, and different bacterins are available to offer effective protection. Animals should be vaccinated at weaning, boostered in thirty days, and then after re-vaccinated annually.

In humans, for many years in the past, a saline solution was injected into the edge of the rash, aspirated back out, and cultured for bacteria, a method discontinued in modern times because bacteria were not found in the majority of cases but if the preceding symptoms are significant enough, sometimes blood is drawn and cultured for bacteria to rule out sepsis. Most cases of Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease is treated with oral antibiotics such as penicillin, clindamycin, cephalosporins, dicloxacillin, and erythromycin. However, in cases of sepsis or infections that do not improve with the oral treatment, the use of IV antibiotics administered in the hospital would be necessary.

Treatment of Erysipeloid and Erysipelas Disease is very often successful if started early in the course of the disease and the antibiotic of first choice for treatment of erysipelas in animals and people is penicillin since the organism is also generally susceptible to cephalosporins and clindamycin, which may be used for treatment in people. Even after the appropriate treatment, erysipelas can recur in 18 to 30 percent of cases. People who are susceptible to recurrence are those with compromised lymphatic systems or immune systems, but because erysipelas can damage the lymphatic system, the infection itself can be a taken for recurrence.

Some individuals with recurrent infections must be treated daily with low-dose antibiotics prescribed by the doctor as a prevention of further infections. Observe caution and hygiene to avoid infection when working in potentially contaminated environments or infected animals.

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