Human Bite-Associated Eikenella Corrodens Infection

Human Bite-Associated Eikenella corrodens Infection

Eikenella corrodens Infection Caused by Human Bite

Eikenella corrodens is a facultatively anaerobic, gram-negative bacillus that commonly colonizes the human oral cavity, upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. While typically considered a commensal organism, it can become pathogenic, particularly in the context of polymicrobial infections or when introduced into deeper tissues through trauma, such as human bites.


Human bites, although less frequent than animal bites, can lead to significant morbidity due to the polymicrobial nature of the oral flora. Eikenella corrodens is one of the organisms frequently implicated in these infections, owing to its presence in the oral cavity and its ability to cause deep-seated soft tissue infections.


Eikenella corrodens is a small, nonmotile, facultatively anaerobic, gram-negative bacillus belonging to the family Neisseriaceae. It is characterized by its ability to produce a corrosive, greenish discoloration on culture media, hence its name "corrodens." It grows optimally in an atmosphere containing 5-10% carbon dioxide.

Transmission and Pathogenesis:

The transmission of Eikenella corrodens typically occurs through direct inoculation into deeper tissues via human bites. The mouth harbors a diverse microbial community, including both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, making human bites particularly prone to polymicrobial infections. The introduction of Eikenella corrodens into the soft tissues can lead to local infection and inflammation.

Upon inoculation, Eikenella corrodens adheres to host tissues through various surface structures and produces an array of virulence factors, including lipopolysaccharides, adhesins, and proteases, which aid in tissue invasion and evasion of host immune responses. Additionally, its ability to form biofilms may contribute to its persistence in infected tissues and resistance to antimicrobial therapy.

Clinical Presentation:

The clinical presentation of Eikenella corrodens infection following a human bite can vary depending on the depth and severity of the wound. Superficial infections may manifest as erythema, warmth, and pain at the site of the bite, resembling cellulitis. However, deeper infections can lead to the formation of abscesses or even osteomyelitis in severe cases.

Systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, and malaise may also be present, particularly in cases of disseminated infection or immunocompromised individuals. Given its slow-growing nature and the polymicrobial nature of human bite wounds, diagnosis can be challenging and may require culture and sensitivity testing of wound specimens.

Treatment and Management:

The management of Eikenella corrodens infection secondary to human bites involves a combination of wound care, antimicrobial therapy, and, in some cases, surgical intervention. Initial management includes thorough wound irrigation and debridement to remove devitalized tissue and foreign material, which can harbor bacteria and impede wound healing.

Empiric antimicrobial therapy should cover the spectrum of organisms commonly associated with human bite infections, including Eikenella corrodens, as well as other oral flora such as anaerobic streptococci and anaerobic gram-negative rods. Commonly used antibiotics include amoxicillin-clavulanate, ceftriaxone, or clindamycin, although susceptibility testing should guide antibiotic selection, especially in cases of treatment failure or allergy.

In severe cases or those associated with deep tissue involvement, surgical intervention may be necessary to drain abscesses, remove necrotic tissue, and facilitate wound healing. Close monitoring for signs of systemic infection or complications such as sepsis or osteomyelitis is essential, particularly in immunocompromised individuals or those with underlying medical conditions.


Prevention of Eikenella corrodens infection following human bites revolves around proper wound management and infection control practices. Individuals who sustain human bites should promptly clean the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention for further evaluation and management, particularly if the bite is deep or associated with signs of infection.

Healthcare providers should be vigilant for signs of infection in patients presenting with human bites, especially those involving high-risk populations such as children, the elderly, or individuals with compromised immune systems. Education regarding the risks of human bites and the importance of seeking medical care can help prevent complications and reduce the burden of Eikenella corrodens infections.

In conclusion, Eikenella corrodens infection secondary to human bites represents a significant clinical entity, particularly due to the potential for deep-seated soft tissue infections and associated morbidity. Prompt recognition and appropriate management are essential to minimize complications and improve outcomes in affected individuals. By implementing preventive measures and optimizing treatment strategies, healthcare providers can effectively manage Eikenella corrodens infections and reduce their impact on public health.

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