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Veterinarians should be aware of zoonosis erysipelas

The bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causes the skin disease Erysipelas (red skin) in chickens, but can also be transmitted to humans. Veterinarians and farmers, in particular, should be aware of the symptoms, says the Dutch Animal Health Service.

In 2009, 2 staff members of the section room at the Animal Health Service in the Netherlands became infected with the bacteria. A number of professions have an increased risk in getting erysipelas: veterinarians, section room staff, farmers, abattoir workers and staff in the fish processing industry.

Symptoms in humans

People become infected through small injuries (wounds) of the skin, often on the hands. There is no risk of contamination through inhalation or consumption of meat or eggs. Symptoms (itching) usually begin several days after the infection. The itching becomes painful and the skin becomes red and swollen. When not treated, the infection can spread through the lymph nodes and in some rare cases can cause a heart valve infection.

Treatment with antibiotics

Do you have symptoms that resemble an erysipelas infection, then it is very important to see a doctor, says the Dutch Animal Health Service. Due to the low prevalence of the infection is often not recognized. It is therefore important that veterinarians and farmers are alert on the symptoms of the disease. Treatment consists of antibiotics.

Natalie Berkhout

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