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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 70-72  

Chromobacterium violaceum : A rare bacterium isolated from a wound over the scalp

Department of Microbiology, Sree Mookambika Institute of Medical Sciences, Kulasekaram, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication1-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
M Ravish Kumar
Department of Microbiology, Sree Mookambika Institute of Medical Sciences, Kulasekaram, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu - 629 161
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-516X.96814

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Infection due to Chromobacterium violaceum, a large motile gram-negative bacillus, is a rare entity that typically starts with a localized skin infection or localized lymphadenitis after contact with stagnant water or soil. It can progress to fulminating septicemia, with necrotizing metastatic lesions and multiple abscesses in the liver, lung, spleen, skin, lymph nodes, and brain, and result in fatal multiorgan failure. We report a case of a young male with a history of fall from a bike into stagnant water who subsequently developed C violaceum infection at the site of the sutured scalp wound.

Keywords: Chromobacterium violaceum , saprophyte, septicemia

How to cite this article:
Kumar M R. Chromobacterium violaceum : A rare bacterium isolated from a wound over the scalp. Int J App Basic Med Res 2012;2:70-2

How to cite this URL:
Kumar M R. Chromobacterium violaceum : A rare bacterium isolated from a wound over the scalp. Int J App Basic Med Res [serial online] 2012 [cited 2021 Jul 26];2:70-2. Available from: https://www.ijabmr.org/text.asp?2012/2/1/70/96814

   Introduction Top

Chromobacterium violaceum is a large, motile, gram-negative bacillus having a single polar flagellum and, usually, one or two lateral flagella. It is a facultative anaerobe. It grows readily on simple nutrient media, including MacConkey agar, at 35-37°C. It is positive for catalase and oxidase reactions. [1],[2] The organism is a common inhabitant of soil and water in tropical and subtropical regions. [3] Occasionally, it can act as an opportunistic pathogen in animals and humans and the initial skin lesion can lead to multiple liver and lung abscesses and fatal septicemia. Serious, and in some cases fatal, infections in humans have been reported from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Nigeria, Singapore, Taiwan, United States, and Vietnam. In most of these cases the route of entry was through the broken skin, following contamination with soil or water. [4]

The organism produces a natural antibiotic called violacein (violet nondiffusable pigment), which may be useful in the treatment of colon and other cancers. [5] It was first described as a human pathogen in Malaysia in 1927. [6] The disease typically starts with a localized skin infection or localized lymphadenitis following contact with stagnant water or soil and then progresses to fulminating septicemia, with necrotizing metastatic lesions and multiple abscesses in the liver, lung, spleen, skin, lymph nodes, and brain, resulting in fatal multiorgan failure. [7] There are also reports of chronic granulomatosis, osteomyelitis, cellulitis, and periorbital and ocular infections. [2]

   Case Report Top

A 42-year-old male came with a history of a fall from the bike 7 days earlier. He had fallen into a drainage canal containing stagnant water and sustained injuries on the head and both the legs. His head and face had been submerged in the drain water. He also gave history of loss of consciousness for half an hour. He was nondiabetic and normotensive, but was a chronic smoker.

After the incident he was taken to a local hospital where the wound over the scalp, measuring about 6 × 1 cm [Figure 1], was sutured and the abrasions on the legs dressed. He had been discharged with oral Ampiclox™ 500 mg TID on the following day. Over the next 5 days he developed pain and edema over the sutured area and was admitted to our hospital on the seventh day post injury.
Figure 1: Wound over the scalp

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On examination, the patient was conscious and alert. His vitals were normal. Local examination showed a wound that was edematous and discharging pus. The sutures were removed and a pus sample was collected with aseptic precautions and sent to the microbiology laboratory for bacteriological culture and antimicrobial susceptibility. The routine laboratory investigations showed: hemoglobin, 13.6 g/dl; total white blood cell count of 13000 cells/mm 3 , with 80% neutrophils; and fasting blood sugar, 70 mg/dl. CT scan (brain) was normal.

Gram stain of the discharge from the wound showed plenty of pus cells along with gram-negative pleomorphic rods. The sample was inoculated on nutrient agar, blood agar, and MacConkey agar and incubated aerobically at 37°C for 24 hours. The next day smooth, round, convex, butyrous, violet-colored colonies were noticed on all the three plates. On blood agar, deep violet colonies with beta-hemolysis was seen [Figure 2]. The organism was a facultatively anaerobic, motile, gram-negative rod. It was catalase and oxidase positive. Biochemically, indole, methyl red, and Voges-Proskauer test were negative. The organism fermented glucose (producing acid but no gas) and trehalose but did not ferment lactose or mannitol. Triple sugar iron medium showed.an alkaline slant and acid butt(K/A) without gas and H2S production. Citrate was utilized and nitrate was reduced. Arginine was decarboxylated but not lysine and ornithine. Biochemically, the isolate was identified as Chromobacterium violaceum.
Figure 2: Deep violet-colored colonies with beta-hemolysis on blood agar

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Antibiotic susceptibility of the organism was tested by the disc diffusion method [Figure 3]. The organism was found to be sensitive to gentamycin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, ceftazidime, imipenem, and amikacin. It showed intermediate sensitivity to cefotaxime but was resistant to penicillin and cephalexin.
Figure 3: Antibiotic susceptibility pattern of the isolate

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Based on the results of the antibiotic susceptibility testing, the patient was given injection gentamycin 80 mg IV twice a day for 7 days. With this treatment the wound healed completely. A repeat sample was collected the following day of first sample and the same organism was isolated again, which proved that the organism was a pathogen and not a contaminant. The patient was followed up for 15 days and the wound healed completely with no signs of recurrence or septicemia

   Discussion Top

Human infections caused by C violaceum are uncommon. Only 150 cases have been reported worldwide, including patients from Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Senegal, Cuba, Nigeria, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. [2],[4] Quick diagnosis, accurate bacterial identification, and specific treatment is very important because C violaceum may cause serious infection in healthy people. The main features in most of the cases with fatal outcome seem to be sepsis, multiple liver abscesses, and diffuse pustular dermatitis. [8] . Some studies have reported instances of untreated C violaceum causing brain abscess and diarrhea. [9]

Although C violaceum generally gives rise to pigmented colonies, some nonpigmented strains have been reported, which may make diagnosis even more difficult. [10] A study by Cheong et al.[11] showed a fatal case of pulmonary C violaceum infection in an adult following aspiration of drain water. Another study from Taiwan isolated nonpigmented C violaceum from a case of bacteremic cellulitis following fish bite. [12] Similarly, the bacteria has been isolated from cases of septic spondylitis, conjunctivitis, and intra-abdominal abscess. [13],[14],[15] The organism is generally sensitive to aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline and resistant to ampicillin, penicillin, and first-generation cephalosporins. Susceptibility to the newer cephalosporins is variable. [1]

In our patient the following points favored the diagnosis of C violaceum: Classical history of fall into stagnant water, no response to treatment with Ampiclox™, repeat isolation of the organism from the pus sample, and response to treatment with aminoglycoside. Timely intervention, with administration of an antibiotic to which the organism was sensitive, ensured that our patient's wound healed completely and that the infection did not progress to septicemia.

   References Top

1.Howard AJ, Ison CA. Haemophilus, Gardnerella and other bacilli. In: Collee JG, Fraser AG, Marmion BP, Simmons A, editors. Mackie and McCartney Practical Medical Microbiology. 14 th ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1996. p. 329-41.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Ray P, Sharma J, Marak SK, Singhi S, Taneja N, Garg RK, et al. Chromobacterium violaceum septicaemia from North India. Indian J Med Res 2004;120:523-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Davis ES. Chromobacterium. In: Braude AI, Davis CE, Fierer J, editors. Infectious diseases and medical microbiology. 2 nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 1986. p. 358-61.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Duran N, Menck FM. Chromobacterium violaceum: A review of pharmacological and industrial perspectives. Crit Rev Microbiol 2001;27:201-22.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Brazilian National Genome Project Consortium. The complete genome sequence of Chromobacterium violaceum reveals remarkable and exploitable bacterial adaptability. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2003;20:1660- 5.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Rai R, Karnaker VK, Shetty V, Krishnaprasad MS. Chromobacterium violaceum septicaemia- A case report. Al Ameen J Med Sci 2011;4:201-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Slesak G, Douangdala P, Inthalad S, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Sengduangphachanh A, et al. Fatal chromobacterium violaceum septicaemia in northern laos, a modified oxidase test and post-mortem forensic family G6PD analysis. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob 2009;8:24.   Back to cited text no. 7
8.Kaufman SC, Ceraso D, Schugurensky A. First case report from Argentina of fatal septicaemia caused by Chromobacterium violaceum. J Clin Microbiol 1986;23:956-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Dutta S. Multidrug resistant Chromobacterium violaceum: An unsual bacterium causing long standing wound abscess. Indian J Med Microbiol 2003;21:217-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
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10.Lee J, Kim JS, Nahm CH, Choi JW, Kim J, Pai SH, et al. Two cases of Chromobacterium violaceum infection after injury in a subtropical region. J Clin Microbiol 1999;37:2068-70.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Cheong BM. A fatal case of pulmonary chromobacterium violaceum infection in an adult. Med J Malaysia 2010;65:148-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Yang CH. Nonpigmented chromobacterium violaceum bacteremic cellulitis after fish bite. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2011;44:401-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Chou YL, Yang PY, Huan CC, Leu SH, Tsao TC. Fatal and nonfatal Chromobacterial septicaemia: Report of two cases. Chang Gung Med J 2000;23:492-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Shao PL, Hsheh PR, Chang YC, Lu CY, Lee PY, Lee CY, et al. Chromobacterium violaceum infection in children: A case of fatal septicaemia with nasopharyngeal abscess and literature review. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2002;21:707-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Chen CH, Lin LC, Liu CE, Young TG. Chromobacterium violaceum bacteremia: A case report. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2003;36:141-4.  Back to cited text no. 15


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