Invasive Species Compendium

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Proteus infections

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Proteus infections

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Proteus infections
  • Overview
  • Proteus is a genus of Gram-negative Proteobacteria, widely distributed in the environment (Janda and Abbott, 2006;

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Proteus infections

International Common Names

  • English: bacterial endocarditis in ruminants; coliform mastitis in goats; gangrenous dermatitis of chickens and turkeys; Proteus induced fleece rot in sheep; proteus mastitis in goats and cattle; Proteus mirabilis infections; Proteus vulgaris infections

Overview

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Proteus is a genus of Gram-negative Proteobacteria, widely distributed in the environment (Janda and Abbott, 2006; Rózalski et al., 2012). Proteus spp. are opportunistic pathogens, commonly responsible for urinary and septic infections in humans, often nosocomial (Jacobsen et al., 2008). Proteus spp. occasionally cause disease in livestock and poultry; the species of veterinary significance are Proteus mirabilis and Proteus vulgaris.

Proteus mirabilis

Proteus mirabilis has been associated with various diseases in chickens including salpingitis in layer chickens (Bisgaard and Dam, 1981; Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015a), yolk sac infection (omphalitis) in chicks (Khalil and Einas, 2012; Abadi Amare et al., 2013), low hatching rate/embryonic death (Guo et al., 2013) and disease characterized by dyspnoea, sneezing, salivation, watery diarrhoea, paralysis and sepsis (Ye et al., 1995; Jiang et al., 1996). P. mirabilis infections appear to be increasing in chickens in China, where researchers are attempting to develop an effective vaccine (Zhang et al., 2015). P. mirabilis has been associated with disease in other avian species, including hepatic abscesses in turkeys (Jana et al., 2002) and diarrhoea, anorexia, septicaemia and mortality in quail chicks (Sah et al., 1983; Myint, 1987; El-Demerdash et al., 2013).

P. mirabilis has been implicated in otitis externa in buffaloes (Verma and Sharma, 1982); endometritis in cattle (Safronova et al., 1991; Wang et al., 2010); mastitis in goats (Ameh and Tari, 2000); endometritis in sheep and goats (Mahajan and Katoch, 1997); pneumonia in sheep and goats (Abubakr et al., 1981); diarrhoea in piglets (Sarma and Boro, 1984; Arora et al., 1987); abortion in pigs (Anandachitra et al., 2007); bovine mastitis (Phiri et al., 2010); diarrhoea in calves (Pohl, 1975; Okela et al., 2010) and wet belly disease (urinary incontinence) (Gunn, 1966) and haemorrhagic septicaemia (Hu et al., 2006) in farmed mink.

P. mirabilis also plays a role in the stimulation of oviposition by Lucilia cuprina by producing, along with other bacteria, a characteristic odour in sheep fleece (Emmens and Murray, 1982). Fleece-rot caused by P. mirabilis has been reported as a predisposing factor to body strike by blowflies on sheep in Australia (Burrell and MacDiarmid, 1983).

Proteus vulgaris

Proteus vulgaris has been implicated in arthritis in layer chickens (Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015b); yolk sac infection (omphalitis) in chicks (Khalil and Einas, 2012); cellulitis in broilers (Vaillancourt et al., 1992); arthritis in ducks (Bisgaard, 1981); diarrhoea in calves (Fisher and Martinez, 1976; Moustafa et al., 2007; Okela et al., 2010); septicaemia in calves (Kohli et al., 1968); mastitis in buffaloes and cattle (Said and Abd-El-Malek, 1968; Gupta et al., 1992; Rashad Munir et al., 2003); endometritis in cattle (Azawi, 2003; Kusum et al., 2003); and mastitis in sheep and goats (Dasgupta et al., 1993; Dewani et al., 2002).

Host Animals

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Animal nameContextLife stageSystem
Aves (birds)
Bos indicus (zebu)
Bos taurus (cattle)Domesticated hostCattle and Buffaloes|All Stages
Bubalus bubalis (Asian water buffalo)Domesticated hostCattle and Buffaloes|All Stages
Capra hircus (goats)Domesticated hostSheep and Goats|All Stages
Coturnix
GallusDomesticated hostPoultry|All Stages
Gallus gallus domesticus (chickens)
Mammalia (mammals)
Meleagris gallopavo (turkey)
Ovis aries (sheep)Domesticated hostSheep and Goats|All Stages
Sus scrofa (pigs)

Systems Affected

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blood and circulatory system diseases of large ruminants
blood and circulatory system diseases of small ruminants
digestive diseases of large ruminants
digestive diseases of pigs
digestive diseases of poultry
digestive diseases of small ruminants
mammary gland diseases of large ruminants
mammary gland diseases of pigs
mammary gland diseases of small ruminants
reproductive diseases of large ruminants
reproductive diseases of pigs
reproductive diseases of poultry
reproductive diseases of small ruminants
respiratory diseases of small ruminants
skin and ocular diseases of poultry
skin and ocular diseases of small ruminants
urinary tract and renal diseases of large ruminants
urinary tract and renal diseases of pigs
urinary tract and renal diseases of poultry

Distribution

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Proteus spp. infections are found worldwide. It has been reported that P. mirabilis infections are increasing in poultry in China (Zhang et al., 2015).

Pathology

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Studies of pathology in farmed animals mostly concern poultry. In studies of disease in quail chicks (Sah et al., 1983; Myint, 1987; El-Demerdash et al., 2013), Proteus mirabilis infection was associated with depression, frothy diarrhoea, septicaemia and mortality. Necropsy revealed congestion of internal organs, including lungs, liver and kidneys, and an enlarged, dark spleen. Unabsorbed yolk sacs were also present.

Postmortem examination of chickens in China with dyspnoea, sneezing, salivation, watery diarrhoea and paralysis, revealed haemorrhage of the lungs, trachea and intestinal tract (Ye et al., 1995); P. mirabilis was isolated from the lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys. In layer chickens with salpingitis, postmortem findings included inflammation and distortion of the ovaries. The dilated, thin-walled infected oviduct was distended with caseous exudates (Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015a).

Diagnosis

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Bacterial culture from clinical materials is used for definitive diagnosis. Proteus spp. can be identified in the laboratory with minimal testing, including demonstration of swarming on blood agar and nutrient agar, and results of spot or tube biochemical tests.

On blood agar, a foul odour may be noticed and the bacteria tend to turn the blood agar a chocolate-brown colour.

Proteus spp. produce swarmer cells with peritrichous flagella, and these are responsible for the swarming motility of these organisms over moist agar surfaces. Proteus spp. have the ability to degrade urea to ammonia, by production of the enzyme urease. This distinguishes them from the other members of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Proteus spp. do not usually ferment lactose, and are oxidase-negative but catalase- and nitrate-positive. P. mirabilis is generally negative for indole production, whereas P. vulgaris is generally positive.

Methods developed for rapid detection of Proteus spp. include direct immunofluorescence assay (Zhu et al., 2010) and PCR (Liu et al., 2012; Cui et al., 2013; Zhang et al., 2013).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Cardiovascular Signs / Absent p waves Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Arrhythmia, irregular heart rate, pulse Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Atrial fibrillation Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Heart murmur Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Jugular pulse Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Palpable precordial thrill Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Peripheral venous distention, jugular distention Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Sinus tachycardia Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Tachycardia, rapid pulse, high heart rate Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Ventricular premature beat, multifocal or unifocal Sign
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Sign
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Sign
Digestive Signs / Ascites, fluid abdomen Sign
Digestive Signs / Decreased amount of stools, absent faeces, constipation Sign
Digestive Signs / Diarrhoea Sign
Digestive Signs / Grinding teeth, bruxism, odontoprisis Sign
Digestive Signs / Hepatosplenomegaly, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly Sign
General Signs / Cyanosis, blue skin or membranes Sign
General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia Sign
General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia Sign
General Signs / Forelimb lameness, stiffness, limping fore leg Sign
General Signs / Forelimb swelling, mass in fore leg joint and / or non-joint area Sign
General Signs / Generalized lameness or stiffness, limping Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Haemorrhage of any body part or clotting failure, bleeding Sign
General Signs / Head, face, ears, jaw, nose, nasal, swelling, mass Sign
General Signs / Head, face, ears, jaw, nose, nasal, swelling, mass Sign
General Signs / Hindlimb lameness, stiffness, limping hind leg Sign
General Signs / Hindlimb swelling, mass in hind leg joint and / or non-joint area Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Sign
General Signs / Kyphosis, arched back Sign
General Signs / Mammary gland swelling, mass, hypertrophy udder, gynecomastia Sign
General Signs / Mammary gland swelling, mass, hypertrophy udder, gynecomastia Sign
General Signs / Pale mucous membranes or skin, anemia Sign
General Signs / Pale mucous membranes or skin, anemia Sign
General Signs / Petechiae or ecchymoses, bruises, ecchymosis Sign
General Signs / Reluctant to move, refusal to move Sign
General Signs / Reluctant to move, refusal to move Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Sign
General Signs / Swelling of the limbs, legs, foot, feet, in birds Sign
General Signs / Underweight, poor condition, thin, emaciated, unthriftiness, ill thrift Sign
General Signs / Weight loss Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Chemosis, conjunctival, scleral edema, swelling Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Conjunctival, scleral, injection, abnormal vasculature Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Conjunctival, scleral, injection, abnormal vasculature Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Conjunctival, scleral, redness Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Conjunctival, scleral, redness Sign
Pain / Discomfort Signs / Pain mammary gland, udder Sign
Pain / Discomfort Signs / Pain mammary gland, udder Sign
Pain / Discomfort Signs / Pain on external abdominal pressure Sign
Reproductive Signs / Agalactia, decreased, absent milk production Sign
Reproductive Signs / Agalactia, decreased, absent milk production Sign
Reproductive Signs / Bloody milk, red, pink, brown milk Sign
Reproductive Signs / Edema of mammary gland, udder Sign
Reproductive Signs / Edema of mammary gland, udder Sign
Reproductive Signs / Firm mammary gland, hard udder Sign
Reproductive Signs / Mastitis, abnormal milk Sign
Reproductive Signs / Mastitis, abnormal milk Sign
Reproductive Signs / Slough of mammary gland, udder Sign
Reproductive Signs / Warm mammary gland, hot, heat, udder Sign
Reproductive Signs / Warm mammary gland, hot, heat, udder Sign
Respiratory Signs / Abnormal lung or pleural sounds, rales, crackles, wheezes, friction rubs Sign
Respiratory Signs / Coughing, coughs Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Sign
Respiratory Signs / Epistaxis, nosebleed, nasal haemorrhage, bleeding Sign
Respiratory Signs / Increased respiratory rate, polypnea, tachypnea, hyperpnea Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Cold skin, cool ears, extremities Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Cracked skin, fissure Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Foul odor skin, smell Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Loss of feathers, loose feathers Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Moist skin, hair or feathers Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Moist skin, hair or feathers Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Rough hair coat, dull, standing on end Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin crusts, scabs Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin edema Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin edema Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin erythema, inflammation, redness Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin erythema, inflammation, redness Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin necrosis, sloughing, gangrene Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin necrosis, sloughing, gangrene Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin ulcer, erosion, excoriation Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Subcutaneous crepitation, skin emphysema Sign
Urinary Signs / Haematuria, blood in urine Sign
Urinary Signs / Proteinuria, protein in urine Sign

Disease Course

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Proteus spp. are part of the normal intestinal flora, but are sometimes involved in opportunistic infections in animals. Infection depends on the interaction between the infecting organism and the host defense mechanisms. Predisposing factors include concurrent infection, tissue devitalization and the inherent vulnerability of certain organs.

Proteus spp. express virulence factors associated with adherence, motility, immune avoidance, nutrient acquisition, host damage, biofilm formation and endotoxicity (Rózalski et al., 2012). The first step in the infectious process is adherence of the microbe to host tissue. Fimbriae facilitate adherence and thus enhance the capacity of the organism to produce disease. Other virulence factors include flagella, urease, proteases, hemolysins and endotoxin (Rózalski et al., 2012).

Epidemiology

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Proteus spp. are ubiquitous in the environment, and are commonly recovered from soil, polluted water, the intestinal tracts of birds, cold-blooded animals and mammals, and from decomposing animal products (Janda and Abbott, 2006; Rózalski et al., 2012).

The bacteria are sometimes involved in localized opportunistic infections in diverse anatomical locations. Faecal contamination of the environment accounts for widespread distribution of the organisms and contributes to the occurrence of opportunistic infection. The bacteria can spread through congenital and contact infection, facilitating the spread of infection.

In poultry, Proteus spp. are capable of penetrating the eggshell following faecal contamination. Temperature influences egg penetration and survival time within the egg (Al Aboudi et al., 1988).

Zoonoses and Food Safety

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Proteus spp. are common inhabitants of the human gastrointestinal tract, but are also important opportunistic pathogens. Proteus spp., particularly P. mirabilis, can colonize the urinary tract under certain circumstances, and are a significant cause of urinary tract infections in hospital patients (Jacobsen et al., 2008; Rózalski et al., 2012).

Resistance to multiple antimicrobials has been documented in Proteus spp. from livestock. The emergence of drug-resistant Proteus spp. that could potentially be transmitted to humans via contaminated food has been highlighted as a potential public health threat (Seiffert et al., 2013; Wong et al., 2013).

Disease Treatment

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The type of treatment is determined by the location and severity of the infection. Antibiotic therapy should be based on antibiotic susceptibility testing. Predisposing causes and sources of infection should be identified, and if possible, eliminated.

Both P. mirabilis and P. vulgaris carry plasmid-encoded resistance to tetracyclines (Popovic and Badnejevic, 1979). Multidrug resistance has been reported for both P. mirabilis (Kim et al., 2005; Kolár et al., 2005; Wong et al., 2013; Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015a) and P. vulgaris (Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015b). The transmission of multi-drug resistant Proteus spp. to humans via contaminated products is considered to be a potential public health threat (Wong et al., 2013; Lei et al., 2014; Tripti Dadheech et al., 2015b).

Prevention and Control

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Good hygiene is important for prevention; in poultry, this is particularly important in hatcheries. 

Due to an increase in P. mirabilis infections in poultry, particularly in China, researchers are hoping to develop an effective vaccine to protect chickens. Zhang et al. (2015) report the development of a recombinant subunit vaccine against P. mirabilis using OmpA, one of the major outer membrane proteins of the bacterium.

References

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Abadi Amare; Ali Mohammed Amin; Ashenafi Shiferaw; Shahid Nazir; Haileleul Negussie, 2013. Yolk sac infection (omphalitis) in Kombolcha Poultry Farm, Ethiopia. American-Eurasian Journal of Scientific Research, 8(1):10-14. http://www.idosi.org/aejsr/8(1)13/2.pdf

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Dasgupta P; Chanda A; Chowdhury B; Bhuin S, 1993. Studies on sensitivity pattern of organisms isolated from clinical mastitis of goat in West Bengal. Indian Journal of Animal Health, 32(2):113-115; 7 ref.

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Tripti Dadheech; Reena Vyas; Vijaylatha Rastogi, 2015. Antibiotic resistance of aerobic bacterial isolates of Proteus mirabilis from sick layer chickens infected with septicaemia and salpingitis in Ajmer region of Rajasthan. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (WJPPS), 4(7):2002-2011. http://www.wjpps.com/wjpps_controller/abstract_id/3489

Tripti Dadheech; Reena Vyas; Vijaylatha Rastogi, 2015. Antimicrobial susceptibility of Proteus vulgaris isolated from sick layer chickens infected with arthritis in Ajmer region of Rajasthan. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (WJPPS), 4(6):1288-1294. http://www.wjpps.com/wjpps_controller/abstract_id/3275

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Wong HoYin [Wong HYM]; Wan HoiYing; Chen Sheng, 2013. Characterization of multidrug-resistant Proteus mirabilis isolated from chicken carcasses. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 10(2):177-181. http://online.liebertpub.com/fpd

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