, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 575–578 | Cite as

Rare human skin infection with Corynebacterium ulcerans: transmission by a domestic cat

  • M. A. M. Corti
  • G. V. Bloemberg
  • S. Borelli
  • H. Kutzner
  • G. Eich
  • L. Hoelzle
  • S. Lautenschlager
Case Report


Corynebacterium ulcerans is mainly known for its ability to cause animal infections. Some strains of C. ulcerans produce diphtheria toxin, which can cause life-threatening cardiopathies and neuropathies in humans. Human cutaneous C. ulcerans infection is a very rare disease that mimics classical cutaneous diphtheria. We present a very rare case of a C. ulcerans skin infection caused by a non-diphtheria toxin-producing strain of C. ulcerans that resolved after 3 weeks of therapy with amoxicillin–clavulanate. A pet cat was the probable source of infection. The presence of C. ulcerans in the mouth of the cat was confirmed by 16S rRNA gene analysis and the API Coryne system. In cases of human infection with potentially toxigenic corynebacteria, it is important to determine the species and examine the isolate for diphtheria toxin production. If toxigenicity is present, diphtheria antitoxin should be administered immediately. Carriers and potential infectious sources of C. ulcerans include not only domestic livestock but also pet animals. For the primary prevention of disease caused by diphtheria toxin-producing corynebacteria, vaccination with diphtheria toxoid is recommended.


Corynebacterium ulcerans Infection Bacteria Zoonotic transmission 



We thank the laboratory team of Triemli Hospital for their expert technical support.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. M. Corti
    • 1
  • G. V. Bloemberg
    • 2
  • S. Borelli
    • 1
  • H. Kutzner
    • 3
  • G. Eich
    • 4
  • L. Hoelzle
    • 5
  • S. Lautenschlager
    • 1
  1. 1.Outpatient Clinic of DermatologyTriemli HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Medical MicrobiologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Dermatohistopathologische GemeinschaftspraxisFriedrichshafenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineTriemli HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Institute of Veterinary BacteriologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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