Journal of Global Infectious DiseasesOfficial Publishing of INDUSEM and OPUS 12 Foundation, Inc. Users online:602  
Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size     
Home About us Editors Ahead of Print Current Issue Archives Search Instructions Subscribe Advertise Login 

   Table of Contents     
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 176-178
Non-zoonotic Pasteurella multocida infection as a cause of septic shock in a patient with liver cirrhosis: A case report and review of the literature

Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, Brooklyn, NY 11206, USA

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication22-Nov-2013


Pasteurella multocida is a Gram-negative organism characterized morphologically as coccobacillus. It is the commonest organism infecting pet bites. However, severe infections may occur in the absence of animal bites or scratches. Pasteurella multocida serves as an opportunistic pathogen in humans, especially in patients with depressed immune system. Few cases in the literature identify Pasteurella multocida as the causative agent of septic shock, especially in cirrhotic patients. We report a patient who presented with septic shock as a result of Pasteurella multocida bacteremia, without prior history of animal exposure.

Keywords: Pasteurella multocida , Pasteurellosis, Liver cirrhosis, Bacteremia

How to cite this article:
Orsini J, Perez R, Llosa A, Araguez N. Non-zoonotic Pasteurella multocida infection as a cause of septic shock in a patient with liver cirrhosis: A case report and review of the literature. J Global Infect Dis 2013;5:176-8

How to cite this URL:
Orsini J, Perez R, Llosa A, Araguez N. Non-zoonotic Pasteurella multocida infection as a cause of septic shock in a patient with liver cirrhosis: A case report and review of the literature. J Global Infect Dis [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Nov 27];5:176-8. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Pasteurellosis is a zoonosis with a world-wide distribution that occurs sporadically. Pasteurella multocida was first described by Revolee in 1877 and further characterized by Pasteur in 1880. [1] Pasteurella species usually have low virulence in humans, but serious manifestations sometimes occur and can lead to bacteremia. We present a patient who developed septic shock as a result of P. multocida bacteremia, presumptively from an intra-abdominal infection.

   Case Report Top

A 52-year-old African American female was brought to the emergency department for generalized abdominal discomfort, altered mental status, diarrhea, fevers and chills for 4-5 days. Her past medical history was significant for alcohol abuse and alcohol-related liver cirrhosis. In the emergency department, vital signs were as follows: Blood pressure of 74/42 mmHg, heart rate of 112 beats/min, respiratory rate of 20 breaths/min and temperature of 98.6 F. Remarkable findings on physical examination included jaundice as well as abdominal distention and tenderness to palpation, especially in the right upper quadrant. There was no rash or ulcers. As per family, she did not have recent travels or exposure to sick people. They denied having domestic animals at home or any contact to the patient with pets. She was placed on mechanical ventilation and admitted to the medical intensive care unit. Admission diagnosis was systemic inflammatory response syndrome with sepsis and septic shock with multi-organic dysfunction syndrome, presumptively secondary to community-acquired pneumonia, possible biliary tract infection (ascending cholangitis), probable spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) and alcoholic hepatitis. Aggressive intravenous fluids resuscitation with crystalloids along with vasopressors was initiated. Blood, urine, respiratory cultures and Legionella urine antigen were obtained. Empiric intravenous antimicrobial therapy, composed by piperacillin/tazobactam (2.25 g every 8 h) and azithromycin (500 mg every 24 h), was initiated.

Laboratory results on admission were: A complete blood cell count of 21,000/mm 3 (90% neutrophils), a platelet count of 51,000/mm 3 , a sodium level of 127 mEq/L, a potassium level of 5.3 mEq/L, a bicarbonate level of 15 mEq/L and a creatinine level of 6.3 mg/dl. Aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels were 121 and 65 IU/L, respectively. Alkaline phosphatase level was 290 IU/L, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase level was 290 U/L and lactate dehydrogenase level was 482 U/L. Total bilirubin level was 14.5 mg/dl, with a direct bilirubin level of 10.1 mg/dl. Lactic acid level was 6.4 mg/dl. Prothrombine time was 25.2 s, with an INR of 2.29. Serum alcohol level was within the normal limits. Arterial blood gases showed a pH of 7.15, a pCO 2 of 23, and a pO 2 of 132 while the patient was receiving mechanical ventilation with FIO 2 of 60%. Chest X-ray showed left lung infiltrate with pleural effusion.

After 24 h of admission, patient remained in critical condition and requiring maximum doses of vasopressors, despite of what it seems to be the appropriate empiric antimicrobial therapy. Blood cultures drawn of admission grew P. multocida. Blood culture system Bact-Alert 3D® was used for the recovery of the organism. No polymerase chain reaction analysis was performed. Isolate was tested sensitive to piperacillin/tazobactam and azithromycin. No minimal inhibitory concentrations for these antimicrobials were reported. In spite of all medical efforts, general medical condition deteriorated and patient expired on day 3 of admission.

   Discussion Top

P. multocida is a small Gram-negative non-spore forming facultative anaerobe organism that is a natural inhabitant of the normal gastrointestinal flora and the upper respiratory tract of wild and domestic animals, especially cats and dogs. It is easily overgrowing by other flora in the sputum and might be regularly missed, as it resembles Haemophilus influenzae, Francisella tularensis and Yersinia pestis. The five species that cause the majority of pasteurellosis are: Multocida, septica, canis, stomatis, and dagmatis. [2] Human P. multocida infections have been reported to occur with and without animal exposure, the former mostly associated with the domestic cat and dog bites or scratches. Most of the infections involve the skin and soft-tissues and they can be complicated by abscess formation, osteomyelitis or septic arthritis. [3],[4] The respiratory tract is the second most common site of infection with a wide spectrum of diseases that includes rhinosinusitis, tracheobronchitis, epiglottitis, pneumonia, empyema and lung abscesses. The majority of P. multocida pneumonia cases occur in elderly patients with underlying chronic pulmonary disease. Bacteremia has been reported in up to 55% of patients with pneumonia. [3],[5] Invasive forms of P. multocida infection usually occur in immunocompromised patients, such as those with advanced age, chronic renal failure, solid tumors, hematological malignancies, diabetes mellitus or liver cirrhosis. [3],[6],[7] P. multocida causes a wide variety of disease, including abdominal and pelvic infections, endocarditis, meningitis and endophtalmitis. [3] Von Graevenitz et al. reviewed 21 proven cases of P. multocida bacteremia. A remarkable number of those cases involved patients with liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis of any etiology, hepatitis and infiltrating tumors. [8] Impaired function of the reticuloendothelial system and the presence of portosystemic shunts in patients with liver disease seem to play a major role in the development of bacteremia. [9],[10] This case seems peculiar in that no direct contact with a domestic animal could be documented. Our patient had a history of alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis, which predisposed her to the development of bacteremia. However, retrospectively, it is difficult to establish the primary source of infection in this case. The findings of the abdominal examination may suggest that the primary source was the intra-abdominal cavity. Unfortunately, the medical team was not able to performed paracentesis to obtain ascitic fluid for cytology and cultures due to patient's medical condition. No abdominal imaging was available. On the other hand, the chest radiography findings of infiltrate and pleural effusion may point the respiratory tract as the primary source of infection. We believed that, given the history of symptoms on admission and the presence of underlying liver disease, the intra-abdominal cavity was the most likely primary source of infection in this patient. Respiratory and intra-abdominal infections have been associated with inhalation of the organism. Nasopharyngeal colonization with P. multocida with transient bacteremia and seeding of the peritoneal cavity in immunosupressed cat owners could play an important role in the development of SBP. [11],[12] SBP caused by P. multocida is rare. Tamaskar et al. reviewed 13 patients with P. multocida SBP. Ten of these patients were exposed to animals, nine had positive blood cultures and four patients died. [13]

The treatment of choice of P. multocida infections is penicillin. However, penicillin-resistant strains in human infections have been described. In these cases, 2 nd and 3 rd generation cephalosporins, macrolides, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole are recommended as an alternative therapy. [2],[14],[15]

Mortality rate ranges from 15% to 30% among bacteremic patients. Outcome is associated with severity of the infection, the extent of the underlying disease and the early initiation of appropriate therapy. [3],[6],[16]

   Conclusion Top

Although cases of bacteremic P. multocida infections has been infrequently reported in the literature, clinicians should considered this organism as an important and potentially lethal pathogen in humans, where it can cause life-threatening infections. P. multocida should be included in the microbiologic differential diagnosis in patients with underlying chronic liver diseases who presents with possible intra-abdominal infection, even without history of exposure to domestic animals.

   References Top

1.Henderson A. Pasteurella multocida infection in man; A review of the literature. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 1963;29:359-67.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Zurlo JJ. Pasteurella species. In: Mandell GL, Douglas RG, Bennet JE, editors. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6 th ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2005. p. 2687-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Weber DJ, Wolfson JS, Swartz MN, Hooper DC. Pasteurella multocida infections. Report of 34 cases and review of the literature. Medicine (Baltimore) 1984;63:133-54.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Furie RA, Cohen RP, Hartman BJ, Roberts RB. Pasteurella multocida infection; report in urban setting and review of spectrum of human disease. N Y State J Med 1980;80:1597-602.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Klein NC, Cunha BA. Pasteurella multocida pneumonia. Semin Respir Infect 1997;12:54-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Raffi F, Barrier J, Baron D, Drugeon HB, Nicolas F, Courtieu AL. Pasteurella multocida bacteremia: Report of thirteen cases over twelve years and review of the literature. Scand J Infect Dis 1987;19:385-93.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Nseir W, Giladi M, Moroz I, Moses AE, Benenson S, Finkelstein R, et al. A retrospective six-year national survey of P. multocida infections in Israel. Scand J Infect Dis 2009;41:445-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Von Graevenitz A, Sabella W. Rare bacteremias due to commonly isolated Gram-negative rods. In: Holloway W, editor. Infectious Disease Reviews. Vol. 5. Mount Kisco, NY: Futura Publishing Company; 1978. p. 11-24.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Patton F, Dumas M, Cannon NJ. Pasteurella multocida septicemia and peritonitis in a cirrhotic cock trainer with a pet pig. N Engl J Med 1980;303:1126-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Fernández-Esparrach G, Mascaró J, Rota R, Valerio L. Septicemia, peritonitis, and empyema due to Pasteurella multocida in a cirrhotic patient. Clin Infect Dis 1994;18:486.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Holst E, Rollof J, Larsson L, Nielsen JP. Characterization and distribution of Pasteurella species recovered from infected humans. J Clin Microbiol 1992;30:2984-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Koch CA, Mabee CL, Robyn JA, Koletar SL, Metz EN. Exposure to domestic cats: Risk factor for Pasteurella multocida peritonitis in liver cirrhosis? Am J Gastroenterol 1996;91:1447-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Tamaskar I, Ravakhah K. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis with Pasteurella multocida in cirrhosis: Case report and review of literature. South Med J 2004;97:1113-5.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Spagnuolo PJ, Friedman RI. Penicillin sensitivity of invasive and non-invasive Pasteurella multocida. J Antimicrob Chemother 1979;5:324-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Naas T, Benaoudia F, Lebrun L, Nordmann P. Molecular identification of TEM-1 beta-lactamase in a Pasteurella multocida isolate of human origin. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2001;20:210-3.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Christidou A, Maraki S, Gitti Z, Tselentis Y. Review of Pasteurella infections over a 12-year period in a tertiary care hospital. Am J Infect Dis 2005;1:107-10.  Back to cited text no. 16

Correspondence Address:
Jose Orsini
Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-777X.122016

Rights and Permissions

This article has been cited by
1 Infective Endocarditis by Pasteurella Species: A Systematic Review
Angeliki Alifragki, Argyro Kontogianni, Ioanna Protopapa, Stella Baliou, Petros Ioannou
Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2022; 11(17): 5037
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 In silico Analysis of Pasteurella multocida PlpE Protein Epitopes As Novel Subunit Vaccine Candidates
Saied Mostaan, Abbas Ghasemzadeh, Parastoo Ehsani, Soroush Sardari, Mohammad Ali Shokrgozar, Mohsen Abolhassani, Gholamreza Nikbakht Brujeni
Iranian Biomedical Journal. 2021; 25(1): 41
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Characterization of Pasteurella multocida isolates recovered from the oral flora of cats
Tugçe TINMAZ, Baran ÇELIK, Baris HALAÇ, Arzu Funda BAGCIGIL
Ankara Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Pasteurella bacteraemia: Impact of comorbidities on outcome, based on a case series and literature review
Emilie Chatelier, Rafaël Mahieu, Jean-François Hamel, Rachel Chenouard, Pierre Lozac’h, Agnès Sallé, Achille Kouatchet, Ludovic Martin, Christian Lavigne, Hélène Pailhoriès, Geoffrey Urbanski
International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2020; 92: 89
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Comparative sequence, structure and functional analysis of Skp protein, a molecular chaperone among members of Pasteurellaceae and its homologues in Gram-negative bacteria
Rajamanikandan Sundarraj, Nihar Nalini Mohanty, Revanaiah Yogisharadhya, Jeyaraman Jeyakanthan, Awadesh Prajapati, Mohammed Mudassar Chanda, Sathish Bhadravati Shivachandra
Meta Gene. 2020; 24: 100680
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded42    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal

Sitemap | What's New | Feedback | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice | Contact Us
© 2008 Journal of Global Infectious Diseases | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 10th December, 2008