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Zoonotic Transmission of Toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans Strain, Germany, 2012 - Volume 21, Number 2—February 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

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Zoonotic Transmission of Toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans Strain, Germany, 2012 - Volume 21, Number 2—February 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Volume 21, Number 2—February 2015


Zoonotic Transmission of Toxigenic Corynebacterium ulcerans Strain, Germany, 2012

Dominik M. Meinel, Regina Konrad, Anja Berger, Christina König, Torsten Schmidt-Wieland, Michael Hogardt, Heribert Bischoff, Nikolaus Ackermann, Stefan Hörmansdorfer, Stefan Krebs, Helmut Blum, Gabriele Margos, and Andreas SingComments to Author 
Author affiliations: Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Oberschleißheim, Germany (D.M. Meinel, R. Konrad, A. Berger, C. König, M. Hogardt, H. Bischoff, N. Ackermann, S. Hörmansdorfer, G. Margos, A. Sing);National Consiliary Laboratory for Diphtheria, Oberschleißheim (R. Konrad, A. Berger, C. König, A. Sing)Labor Dr. Gaertner, Ravensburg, Germany (T. Schmidt-Wieland)Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Krankenhaushygiene, Klinikum der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt/Main, Germany (M. Hogardt)Genecenter, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany (S. Krebs, H. Blum)


Severe necrotizing fasciitis was diagnosed in a 53-year-old man in Germany in 2012. ToxigenicCorynebacterium ulcerans was grown from a wound swab sample. One of the patient´s 2 dogs was found to harbor a toxigenic C. ulcerans strain. Results of next generation sequencing of both isolates supported recent zoonotic transmission of this bacterial pathogen.
Toxigenic Corynebacterium spp. C. diphtheriaeC. ulcerans, and rarely, C. pseudotuberculosis produce diphtheria toxin (DT) and thus cause respiratory and cutaneous diphtheria. DT is encoded by the phage-located tox gene. During the past decade, diphtheria-like infections with toxigenic C. ulcerans have outnumbered those caused by toxigenic C. diphtheriae in many industrialized countries (1). C. ulcerans has increasingly been isolated from domestic animals such as pet dogs and cats (15). Isolation of an undistinguishable toxigenic C. ulcerans strain from an animal and its owner has been documented for 2 dogs (2,3), 2 cats (4,5), and 1 pig (6) and their respective owners. Strain comparison was achieved in these cases by ribotyping alone (2,3), ribotyping in combination with multilocus sequence typing (4,6), or pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis (5). We report the first use of next generation sequencing (NGS) for proving zoonotic transmission of a toxigenic C. ulcerans strain between a pet dog and his human owner.

Dr. Meinel is a postdoctoral researcher at the Bavarian Health and Food Authority, Oberschleißheim, Germany. His major research interests are genomics, genome biology, and infectious diseases.


We thank Wolfgang Schmidt, Sabine Wolf, Jasmin Fräßdorf, and Christine Hartberger for excellent technical assistance and Georg Decker for continuous support. We dedicate this paper to Jürgen Heesemann, the first head of the German Consiliary Laboratory for Diphtheria, on the occasion of his retirement.
The study was partly supported by the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care and by the German Federal Ministry of Health through the Robert Koch-Institute and its National Reference Laboratories Network (09-47, FKZ 1369-359 and FKZ 415).


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Suggested citation for this article: Meinel DM, Konrad R, Berger A, König C, Schmidt-Wieland T, Hogardt M, et al. Zoonotic transmission of toxigenicCorynebacterium ulcerans strain, Germany, 2012. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Feb [date cited].
DOI: 10.3201/eid2102.141160

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