Pathogen Safety Data Sheets: Infectious Substances – Pasteurella spp.



NAME: Pasteurella spp.

SYNONYM OR CROSS REFERENCE: P. multocida, P. canis, P stomatis, P. dagmatis,

P. lymphangitis, P. skyensis, P. langaaensis, pasteurellosis, shipping fever Footnote 1-Footnote 3.

CHARACTERISTICS: Pasteurella spp. are coccobacilli or rods, 0.3-1.0 μm in diameter and 1.0-2.0 μm in length, although after multiple passages in tissue culture, they may appear pleomorphic Footnote 1. They form pairs or short chains. They are gram negative bacteria, and bipolar staining may be observed for some strains with Giemsa or Wright's stain. They do not sporulate and are non-motile. P. multocida is divided into three subspecies (multocida, septica, gallicida), and 5 serogroups (A to E) based on a capsular antigen. Pasteurella spp. are considered to be host specific.


PATHOGENICITY/TOXICITY: 50% of pasteurellosis cases in Europe and America are infected bites or scratches from animals, usually cats and dogs Footnote 4 20-80% of cat bites and 3-18% dog bites will be infected Footnote 3. 3-48h after infection, substantial local cellulitis, sometimes accompanied with low fever, appear. If this infection progresses, subcutaneous abscess, osteomyelitis, pneumonia, endocarditis, septic arthritis, pericarditis, brain abscess, liver abscess, renal abscess, bacteremia/septicaemia, conjunctivitis, and lymphangitis may develop Footnote 5.

25% of the cases present as respiratory tract diseases Footnote 4, which may include epiglottitis, sinusitis, tracheobronchitis, pneumonia, empyema, and pulmonary abscesses Footnote 2. Rarely, it may also present as malakoplakia and as a granulomatous pulmonary lesion.

The remainder of cases appear as urinary tract infections, sepsis, or meningitis Footnote 4.

Pasteurellosis may lead to death with an overall mortality rate of 30% among reported cases Footnote 6.

EPIDEMIOLOGY: Worldwide Footnote 3. P. multocida is part of oral flora of cats and dogs. Individuals with intensive animal contact (veterinarian, animal keepers, farmers, breeders, pet owners, abattoir personnel) are at higher risk or infection and 3-5% may be colonized Footnote 2, Footnote 7. Infants and immunocompromised individuals are also at higher risk than the general population Footnote 8.

HOST RANGE: Animals and birds are usual hosts, but P. multocida, P. dagmatis, P. stomatis, and P. canis may be transmitted to humans Footnote 7Footnote 9. Ticks, lice, and flies may contain Pasteurella multocida, but they are not considered to act as a vector Footnote 10Footnote 11. Cockroaches may also contain Pasteurella spp.Footnote 12. Vertical transmission and person-to-person transmission have been reported, as has transmission by contaminated blood Footnote 13.


MODE OF TRANSMISSION: Transmission occurs primarily by bites and scratches of infected animals, animal licks on injury site, respiratory droplets, and infected meat Footnote 7Footnote 14. Cockroaches may spread pasteurellosis if they come in contact with food Footnote 12.

INCUBATION PERIOD: Less than 24 hours Footnote 8.

COMMUNICABILITY: Pasteurella spp. may be transmitted during colonization. Human-to-human communicability is suspected, but not confirmed Footnote 3.


RESERVOIR: Animals and birds may spread pasteurellosis Footnote 7.

ZOONOSIS: Yes. All animals can spread the disease to humans, but usually it is spread by domestic animals Footnote 7.

VECTORS: Cockroaches are a potential indirect vector, and may spread Pasteurella to food Footnote 12.


DRUG SUSCEPTIBILITY: Sensitive to penicillins and doxycycline Footnote 7.

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Phenolic disinfectants, 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, iodophore, and peracetic acid are effective against Pasterella spp. Footnote 15.

PHYSICAL INACTIVATION: Pasteurella spp. are inactivated by UV, microwave, gamma radiation, moist heat (121°C for at least 20 min), and dry heat (165-170°C for 2 h) Footnote 16-Footnote 19.

SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: P. multocida may survive in air (5% after 45 min), in distilled water and ocean water (14 days at 4°C, less than 24 hours at 37°C), and in pig slurry (3 days at 4°C and 6 days at 37°C) Footnote 20. It may also survive in blood Footnote 13.


SURVEILLANCE: Monitor for symptoms and confirm bacteriologically and by PCR Footnote 21.

FIRST AID/TREATMENT: Give appropriate antibiotic therapy Footnote 5.

IMMUNIZATION: None currently available.

PROPHYLAXIS: Antibiotics such as penicillin or derivative are given with clinical observation of infected bites Footnote 5.


LABORATORY-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS: 2 LAI have been reported, both of which were associated with working with laboratory animals Footnote 22.

SOURCES/SPECIMENS: Infected bite wounds and abscesses, pus, bronchial secretion, CSF, and blood may contain Pasteurella spp. Footnote 7

PRIMARY HAZARDS: Hazards include laboratory animal bites, exposure to infectious aerosols, and parenteral inoculation Footnote 7.



RISK GROUP CLASSIFICATION: Risk Group 2. This risk group classification applies to the genus as a whole, and may not apply to every species within the genus.

CONTAINMENT REQUIREMENTS: Containment Level 2 facilities, equipment, and operational practices for work involving infectious or potentially infectious materials, animals, or cultures. These containment requirements apply to the genus as a whole, and may not apply to each species within the genus.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: Lab coat. Gloves when direct skin contact with infected materials or animals is unavoidable. Eye protection must be used where there is a known or potential risk of exposure to splashes Footnote 23.

OTHER PRECAUTIONS: All procedures that may produce aerosols, or involve high concentrations or large volumes should be conducted in a biological safety cabinet (BSC). The use of needles, syringes, and other sharp objects should be strictly limited. Additional precautions should be considered with work involving animals or large scale activities Footnote 23.


SPILLS: Allow aerosols to settle and, wearing protective clothing, gently cover spill with paper towels and apply an appropriate disinfectant, starting at the perimeter and working towards the centre. Allow sufficient contact time before clean up.

DISPOSAL: Decontaminate all wastes that contain or have come in contact with the infectious organism before disposing by autoclave, chemical disinfection, gamma irradiation, or incineration.

STORAGE: The infectious agent should be stored in leak-proof containers that are appropriately labelled.


REGULATORY INFORMATION: The import, transport, and use of pathogens in Canada is regulated under many regulatory bodies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. Users are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with all relevant acts, regulations, guidelines, and standards.

UPDATED: December 2011

PREPARED BY: Pathogen Regulation Directorate, Public Health Agency of Canada.

Although the information, opinions and recommendations contained in this Pathogen Safety Data Sheet are compiled from sources believed to be reliable, we accept no responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability or for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information. Newly discovered hazards are frequent and this information may not be completely up to date.

Copyright ©
Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011

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