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Pasteurella Multocida Infection Treatment & Management

  • Author: Sara L Cross, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 06, 2015

Medical Care

Because P multocida infection is mostly encountered in the setting of an injury following an animal bite, physicians must be familiar with the associated microbiological oral flora of certain animals, especially dogs and cats.

Most animal bites are polymicrobial, with both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. Several species can be isolated at once.

Several Pasteurella species are associated with dog and cat bites, including P multocida subspecies multocida,P multocida subspecies septica, Pasteurella stomatis, and Pasteurelladogmatis. Pasteurella canis is associated only with dog bites.

Other fastidious gram-negative organisms that have been associated with dog and cat bites include Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Capnocytophaga cynodegmi, especially in patients who had undergone previous splenectomy. C canimorsus infection can cause fulminant sepsis and meningitis, whereas C cynodegmi infection usually causes a milder localized inflammation.

Several other organisms are associated with cat bites, including Bartonella henselae, Francisella tularensis, and cowpox virus.

Medical management of animal bite wounds includes local wound care, standard-protocol tetanus prophylaxis, standard-protocol rabies prophylaxis, and either oral or intravenous empiric antimicrobial treatment.

Antimicrobial treatment is discussed in Medication.

Local care of bite wounds includes cleansing and removing nonviable tissue. Gently cleanse the skin surrounding the bite wound with an antiseptic solution. To prevent further tissue injury, do not scrub the wound directly. Soaking is of no benefit, but copious irrigation with a small-gauge catheter on a syringe helps remove debris and decreases the concentration of bacteria in contaminated wounds. Debridement and closure are discussed in Surgical Care.


Surgical Care

The initial assessment of an animal bite includes an estimation of the infection risk. Bites to the head and neck, to the distal extremities, and near joints carry the highest risk of infection. In general, persons with animal bite wounds are at a high risk for infection, especially those who present to medical attention more than 8-10 hours after the injury occurred.

Persons with underlying medical diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease, asplenia, alcoholism, HIV infection, or other immunodeficiency conditions (including chronic steroid exposure), are at increased risk of infection.

After irrigation and cleansing, sharply débride nonviable tissue to reduce the risk of infection and to allow easier suturing by providing a more even edge.

Primary suturing of bite wounds is reserved for minor injuries, those at low risk for infection, and those that have been treated within 8-10 hours of injury.

Leave all other wounds open until the risk of infection is reduced by cleansing, debridement, and prophylactic antibiotics.



See the list below:

  • General surgeon
  • Orthopedic surgeon


Elevation is of great importance in the management of limb injuries. Lack of elevation may result in excessive edema, which may produce compartment syndrome and compromise local circulation, to the extent of threatening the viability of the limb.

Wounds on extremities should be immobilized and elevated with a sling to reduce edema, which may hamper normal activities.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Sara L Cross, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Education, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine

Sara L Cross, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Michael Gelfand, MD, FACP Chief, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Methodist Healthcare of Memphis, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine

Michael Gelfand, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Aaron Glatt, MD Chief Administrative Officer, Executive Vice President, Mercy Medical Center, Catholic Health Services of Long Island

Aaron Glatt, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, American College of Physicians, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, American Thoracic Society, American Venereal Disease Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International AIDS Society, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD David Ross Boyd Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine, Stewart G Wolf Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center; Master of the American College of Physicians; Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of Professors of Medicine, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Larry I Lutwick, MD Professor of Medicine, State University of New York Downstate Medical School; Director, Infectious Diseases, Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Health Care System, Brooklyn Campus

Larry I Lutwick, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


J Robert Cantey, MD Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical University of South Carolina

J Robert Cantey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International Society of Travel Medicine, Musculoskeletal Infection Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and Southern Society for Clinical Investigation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Alexandre Lacasse, MD, MSc Internal Medicine Faculty, Assistant Director, Medicine Clinic, Infectious Disease Consultant, St Mary's Health Center

Alexandre Lacasse, MD, MSc is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. Thomas Lafeber, MD Consulting Staff, Wellstar Infectious Disease LLC

Thomas Lafeber, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, American Society of Transplantation, and Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Pasteurella multocida infection.
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