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Logo of nmniGuide for AuthorsAbout this journalExplore this journalNew Microbes and New Infections
New Microbes New Infect. 2017 July; 18: 1–2.
Published online 2017 March 23. doi:  10.1016/j.nmni.2017.03.001
PMCID: PMC5394223

First description of an Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens prosthetic joint infection


Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens belongs to the normal flora of cats and dogs and can rarely infect humans. Here, we report the first case of an A. succiniciproducens prosthetic joint infection.

Keywords: Anaerobiospirillum, antimicrobial susceptibility, prosthetic joint, infection, 16S rRNA


The genus Anaerobiospirillum was first described in 1976 and consists of Anaerobiospirillum thomasii and Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens [1]. They are Gram-negative, anaerobic, motile, spiral-shaped rods and are part of the normal gastrointestinal flora of dogs and cats. Animals are suspected to be the source of infections in humans [2]. So far, 61 infections (e.g. gastrointestinal, bacteraemia) have been reported. The mortality from Anaerobiospirillum sp. bacteraemia can reach up to 30% [3].

Here, we report the first case of a prosthetic joint infection by A. succiniciproducens.

Case report

A 71-year-old man with multiple co-morbidities (coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, morbid obesity, hyperlipoproteinaemia, atrial fibrillation) was admitted with a periprosthetic joint infection of the right knee.

The total knee arthroplasty was implanted 14 years ago and was replaced twice (12 and 7 years ago) due to periprosthetic Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. The patient reported several cat bites in the past. On admission, the patient was afebrile (36.5°C); the pulse (90/min) and blood pressure (112/64 mmHg) were normal. Leucocytes (14 800/μL) and C-reactive protein (44 mg/dL) were elevated.

The infected prosthesis was removed including the infected tissue (distal femur, proximal tibia). An antimicrobial-coated spacer (vancomycin, gentamicin, clindamycin) was implanted and three samples of the periprosthetic tissue were sent for microbiological culture.

The specimen showed no growth before and after enrichment in brain–heart infusion broth for 10 days. After enrichment in thioglycollate medium (with vitamin K1 and haemin, BBL™; BD, Sparks, MD, USA), anaerobic culture at 37°C on Columbia blood agar and Schaedler agar (both containing 5% sheep blood; BD) yielded small, white, flat, irregular, entire colonies in two of the three tissue samples after 48 h. Gram-staining revealed irregular, screw-shaped Gram-negative rods of different sizes. Species identification with matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS; Bruker Daltonics, Bremen, Germany) failed with and without formic acid extraction (identification scores were 1.4 and 1.2, respectively). Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens was identified using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and The Ribosomal Database Project (RDP) (, similarity score: 100%, reference strain: ATCC 29305, GenBank accession number: U96412.1) [4]. Despite the screw-shaped morphology, Anaerobiospirillum sp. are related to the genera Aeromonas, Tolumonas and Ruminobacter rather than to Campylobacter, Borrelia or Treponema (see Supplementary material, Fig. S1).

Empirical therapy with vancomycin (750 mg intravenous, twice daily), rifampicin (450 mg intravenous, twice daily) and clindamycin (600 mg intravenous, thrice daily) was switched to oral amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (875/125 mg, twice daily) for 4 weeks according to antimicrobial susceptibility testing (Table 1).

Table 1
Susceptibility of an Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens isolate to different antibiotics using a gradient diffusion method

Two blood cultures taken immediately after admission showed no growth after 7 days.

The patient gave oral informed consent to report his case. Our institutional review board does not request ethical approval to report clinical cases.


Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens is a rare cause of a potentially zoonotic invasive disease (e.g. bacteraemia, abdominal infection) and mainly affects immunocompromised patients [3], [5]. Here, we report the first case of an A. succiniciproducens prosthetic joint infection. Frequent cat bites in the past could have been the source of infection. The mainstay of the definite diagnosis is 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Evidence-based therapeutic recommendations do not exist but ampicillin/sulbactam and cephalosporins were shown to be effective in several reports [6].


We thank Barbara Grünastel and Martina Schulte for their skilful technical assistance.


Appendix ASupplementary data related to this article can be found at

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Appendix A. Supplementary data

The following is the supplementary data related to this article:

Fig. S1

Fig. S1

Phylogeny of Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproduces. A neighbour-joining tree was constructed using the full 16s rRNA gene sequence of members of the order Aeromonadales and examples of spiral-shaped pathogenic bacteria (Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Borrelia burgdorferi, Treponema pallidum). Bootstrap values are calculated for each node. Despite a similar spiral-shaped morphology, A. succiniciproducens is unrelated to the genera Campylobacter, Borrelia and Treponema.


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