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Erysipeloid
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Erysipeloid is defined as an acute bacterial infection of traumatized skin and other organs. It is a type of dermatitis. It resembles erysipelas but it tends to occur on the hands rather than on the face.

In this case, the hands generally appear red and swollen. This condition is usually seen in fishermen and meat handlers. Systemic symptoms such as fever and chills are not as common as with erysipelas.

Causes of Erysipeloid

It is chiefly caused by the microorganism Erysipelothrix rusiopathiae. This microorganism was earlier known as Erysipelothric insidiosa. This is a common bacterial organism and it has been known to cause animal and human infections.

Direct contact between meat infected with E rusiopathiae and traumatized human skin results in erysipeloid. In animals, the organism causes swine erysipelas and several other diseases in poultry and sheep.

Erysipeloid is known to be an occupational disease. Humans acquire the infection after direct contact with infected animals, poultry fish and shellfish. Infection can occur only if the person has an abrasion or cut that allows entry of the bacteria.

The disease is more common among farmers, butchers, cooks, housewives and fishermen. The infection most commonly occurs, during the summer or early fall. E. rhusiopathiae, which is highly resistant to environmental factors, enters the skin through scratches or pricks.

In the skin, the organism is capable of producing certain enzymes that help it dissect its way through the tissues. This enzyme is found to help the microorganism invade tissues.

Meanwhile, the host’s immune system is activated to start fighting against this foreign bacterium. The organism generally escapes from the immune system cells and finally spread in the body via the vascular system to the joints, heart, brain, CNS and the lungs. The organ most commonly affected other that the skin is the heart.

Signs and symptoms of Erysipeloid

Erysipeloid generally affects people in three ways. The most common and least severe form is localized cutaneous erysipeloid. This is a self-limiting disease, with the following characteristics.

There may be seen clearly defined bright red to purple lesions with smooth shiny surfaces. Lesions may be warm and tender and cause pain or burning. The lesions are usually seen on the hands, web of the fingers, forearms, etc.

In some cases, there may be milk fever; chills and malaise may be noted. Very, rarely, a diffuse cutaneous form occurs when multiple lesions appear on various parts of the body. Rarely, a severe systemic form of erysipeloid may develop. In this case, the other organs are infected, such as the heart, brain, joints and lungs. Skin lesions may or may not be apparent in patients with systemic erysipeloid.

Treatment of Erysipeloid

The two cutaneous forms of Erysipeloid are self-limiting and usually resolves spontaneously within 2-4 weeks. Treatment with antibiotics generally speed up the healing process and lessen the chance of the infection spreading to other organs.

All three forms of erysipeloid may be treated with penicillin. Patients allergic to penicillin may treated with a combination of erythromycin or rifampicin. Other drug of choices are tetracyclines or ciprofloxacin.



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