Erysipelas, the opportunistic zoonotic disease: history, epidemiology, pathology, and diagnosis—a review

  • Iniobong C. I. Ugochukwu
  • Felix Samuel
  • Ochuko OrakpoghenorEmail author
  • Obichukwu C. Nwobi
  • Chidiebere O. Anyaoha
  • Lynda O. Majesty-Alukagberie
  • Miracle O. Ugochukwu
  • Emmanuel Ikenna Ugochukwu
Review Article


Due to the recent multidisciplinary collaborations towards ‘One Health’, it was necessary to review this important zoonotic disease, erysipelas. Swine erysipelas also referred to as diamond skin disease has since become one of the most serious hazards of swine production worldwide. Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, the aetiology of erysipelas could affect pigs, turkeys, sheep, chickens, ducks, and emus. The most important animal reservoir of E. rhusiopathiae is the domestic swine. The organism is shed by diseased animals in faeces, urine, saliva, and nasal secretions, which can contaminate food, water, and soil. Swine erysipelas is made up of the hyperacute form, the septicaemia, and cutaneous (diamond) forms (acute), and the chronic form, characterised in pigs by joint lesions (arthritis), vegetative endocarditis, alopecia, and dermatitis. These signs are accompanied by poor fertility, increased prevalence of abortions, stillbirths, and small litter size. Reports of human cases are related to occupational exposure placing fishermen, butchers, slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians, housewives, poultry industry workers, and other agricultural based workers at higher risk. Diagnosis of erysipelas is based on clinical signs, gross lesions, response to antimicrobial therapy, and demonstration of the bacterium using bacterial culturing, mouse protection test, microscopy and mass spectrometry or demonstration of bacterial DNA in tissues from affected animals using PCR assays, immunohistochemical methods, and other serological methods. Swine erysipelas as an opportunistic zoonotic disease is on the increase hence, a synergistic effort should be garnered towards reducing the negative influence of this disease, through enhanced awareness of this disease amongst farmers, butchers, housewives, veterinarians, and drug researchers.


Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae Diamond skin disease Transmission Zoonosis Diagnosis Gross and histopathological lesions 



Special appreciation goes to Prof A.K.B Sackey of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, who helped proofread this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iniobong C. I. Ugochukwu
    • 1
  • Felix Samuel
    • 2
  • Ochuko Orakpoghenor
    • 3
    Email author return OK on get
  • Obichukwu C. Nwobi
    • 4
  • Chidiebere O. Anyaoha
    • 4
  • Lynda O. Majesty-Alukagberie
    • 4
  • Miracle O. Ugochukwu
    • 5
  • Emmanuel Ikenna Ugochukwu
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Pathology and MicrobiologyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  2. 2.National Animal Production Research InstituteAhmadu Bello UniversityZariaNigeria
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary PathologyAhmadu Bello UniversityZariaNigeria
  4. 4.Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive MedicineUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  5. 5.University Medical CentreUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  6. 6.Department of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

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