Pasteurellosis is an infection with a species of the bacteria genus Pasteurella , which is found in humans and animals.

Pasteurella multocida (P. septica) is carried in mouth and respiratory tract of several animals, notably cats. It is a small gram negative bacillus with bipolar staining by Wayson coloration. In animals it can originate fulminant septicaemia (chicken cholera), but is also a common commensal.

Pasteurellosis in humans is associated with a close animal contact, and may be transmitted by cat bite.


There are several forms of the infection:

  • Cutaneous / subcutaneous disease : this is a septic phlegmon that develops classically in the hand and forearm after cat bite. Inflammatory signs are very rapid to develop, in 1 or 2 hours edema , severe pain and serosanguineous exudate appears. Fever , moderate or very high can be seen alongside with vomiting, headache and diarrhea. Lymphangitis is usual. Complications are possible, in the form of septic arthritis, osteitis or evolution to chronicity.
  • Septicaemia : is very rare, but can be as fulminant as septicaemic plague , with high fever, rigors and vomiting followed by shock and coagulopathy.
  • Pneumonic disease : is also rare and appears in patients with some chronic pulmonary pathology. it usually presents as billateral consolidating pneumonia , sometimes very severe.

Other locations are possible, like septic arthritis, meningitis and acute endocarditis but are very rare

Pasteurellosis in animals

P. multocida causes numerous pathological conditions in domestic animals. It often acts together with other infectious agents, like Chlamidiae, Mycoplasmae, viruses. The environmental conditions play also a role like transportation, bad weather, housing deficiency.

The following diseases are considered caused by P. multocida, alone or associated to other pathogens :


Diagnosis is made with isolation of Pasteurella multocida in a normally sterile site (blood, pus or CSF).


Pasteurellosis is usually treated with high dose penicillin. Tetracycline and chloramphenicol provides an alternative in beta-lactam intolerant patients.

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