A recent report from Salt Lake City’s KSL.com caught my eye as it told the story of a  12-year-old boy, Cole Williams, of Malad, Idaho who contracted, was treated for and survived a rare infection called Pasteurella multocida meningitis. This type of meningitis is so rare that one Logan pediatrician said he never heard of it.

It felt like someone dumping a giant bucket of bouncy balls on you,” said Cole, age 12, who lives in Malad, Idaho. “It just hurts really bad.”

The good news is that Cole was treated with IV Penicillin and made a full recovery with no complications.

The report did not discuss how Cole contracted this infection.

Pasteurella multocida gram stain/CDC
Pasteurella multocida gram stain/CDC

What is Pasteurella multocida?

P. multocida is a gram negative cocco-bacilli that is the most commonly recovered Pasteurella species in humans. It is also recovered in a number of animals.

The majority of human infections are wound infections and cellulitis associated with cat bites and scratches. It is also found in people following dog bites.

Complications include rapidly progressive cellulitis, abscesses, tenosynovitis, osteomyelitis, and septic arthritis. The latter two are particularly common following cat bites because of their small, sharp, penetrative teeth.

The clinical spectrum of human P. multocida infection can also include bone and joint infections, respiratory tract infections, eye infections, endocarditis and infections of the central nervous system.

P. multocida meningitis, an uncommon cause of meningitis, has been associated with cat licks and bites occurring on the face in elderly individuals with underlying disease and in infants.

A rare occurrence, Pasteurella meningitis has been diagnosed in such diverse situations as 7-month-old infant who had no direct contact with the pet cat, but his 2-year-old brother, whose hands has been licked by the pet dog, often comforted his infant sibling by allowing him to suck on his fingers to a 56-year-old man with several pets who had recent ear surgery.

Pasteurella multocida is one of the few gram negative bacterium that can be treated with Penicillin G.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today

Follow @bactiman63