Pasteurellosis

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Guidance for Personnel Working with Cattle, Rabbits, Cats, and Dogs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

What is pasteurellosis?

Pasteurellosis is a bacterial infection caused by Pasteurella bacteria. Pasteurella multocida is the species which most commonly infects humans. Pasteurella multocida can also infect cattle, rabbits, cats and dogs. Pasteurella infection in cattle is an opportunistic infection. The bacteria are normally found in the upper respiratory tract, but disease occurs when the animalÕs normal defenses are compromised.

How is pasteurellosis spread?

Pasteurella infections are spread by inhalation of aerosol droplets, by direct nose to nose contact, or by ingestion of food and water contaminated by nasal and oral discharges from infected animals. Humans can also acquire the organism through dog or cat bites.

Who is at risk for infection?

Pasteurellosis is relatively uncommon in humans. However, persons with a weakened immune system are at higher risk.

Is pasteurellosis infection serious?

The most common symptom of pasteurellosis in humans is a local wound infection, usually following an animal bite or scratch. Complications include abscesses, cellulitis (an area of spreading inflammation) and joint infections. The organism can also infect the respiratory tract and cause sinusitis and ear infections, and more severe symptoms including pneumonia or lung abscesses in those with underlying pulmonary disease, however this is rare. Other uncommon presentations of P. multocida infection include septicaemia (blood poisoning), eye infections, meningitis and gastrointestinal problems.

How can I protect myself?

Pasteurellosis can be treated using antibiotics. If someone has been bitten or scratched by an animal they should gently cleanse the area around the bite wound, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. This advice applies in any case of an animal bite. However, persons at high risk (those with a weakened immune system, with rheumatoid arthritis, or with a prosthetic joint) should seek medical attention immediately after any significant animal bite or scratch.

What are the signs of pasteurellosis infection?

When bitten by an infected animal, human patients tend to exhibit swelling, cellulitis, and some bloody drainage at the wound site within 24 hours after the bite. Infection may also move to nearby joints where it can cause swelling and arthritis.

 What do I do if an exposure or injury occurs?

Exposure to aerosols, bites or scratches involving animals or injuries from objects contaminated with body fluids from animals require immediate first aid and medical attention. Notify your supervisor! Then, contact the University Police Department at 593-2611 or dial 911.

This page was last updated on: October 9, 2015