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Iguana stole my cake! and left behind a nasty surprise

Never get between an iguana and his cake – a cautionary tale of a toddler infected with bacteria that cause tuberculosis-like illness in fish, following an iguana bite

2023-04-01
(Press-News.org) **Note: the release below is a special early release from the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2023, Copenhagen, 15-18 April). Please credit the conference if you use this story**

Embargo: 2301H UK time Friday 31 March  

**Note – the press release is available in Spanish and Portuguese, see links below**

A 3-year-old girl was infected with an unusual Mycobacterium marinum infection, that developed following an iguana bite while she was on holiday in Costa Rica, report the doctors who treated her at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Copenhagen, Denmark (15-18 April).

The authors believe it is the first reported case of M. marinum infection following an iguana bite. M. marinum is a ubiquitous, non-tuberculous mycobacterium that causes a tuberculosis-like illness in fish and has been known to infect humans when skin wounds are exposed to contaminated fresh or salt water.

The toddler was sitting on the beach eating cake when the iguana suddenly ran up and bit her on the back of her left-hand before snatching the cake.

She was immediately taken to a local clinic and found to have a single, superficial wound on the back of the metacarpal bone of her middle finger. After disinfection, she was given five days of amoxicillin antibiotics for potential salmonella exposure (common after reptile bites), and the wound healed quickly without any issues.

Five-months later, however, the parents noted a small bump on the back of her left hand which gradually became larger, and the skin became red and mildly painful over the next 3 months.

The toddler attended the hospital at Stanford Children’s Health (Stanford, CA, USA) where an ultrasound revealed a mass consistent with a ganglion cyst (fluid-filled lump), but the location and symptoms were not in keeping with this.

The orthopaedic surgeon who removed the 2-cm thick-walled mass noticed a discharge of pus from the wound, indicating an infection.

Histological examination revealed extensive tissue death and necrotizing granulomatous inflammation (an area of inflammation where the tissue has died), and cultures yielded a pure growth of M. marinum. As M. marinum is resistant to common antibiotics including amoxicillin, the girl was started on rifampin and clarithromycin and responded well to therapy.

While organisms that cause infection after dog or cat bites are well known, the microbiological cause of infected wounds secondary to iguana bites is limited to a few case reports, with Serratia marcescens and Staphylococcus aureus most often implicated. Salmonella enterica is also possible, given 75-90% of both wild and captive reptiles (including snakes, turtles, and iguanas) are colonised with these bacteria.

Several studies have reported that domestic reptiles harbour non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) given their abundance in fresh and salt water.

“M. marinum prefers lower temperatures (30◦C) for optimal growth, and it’s highly likely that the cold-blooded iguana, with body temperatures ranging from 22-37◦C, may sustain these microbes as reservoirs,” explains lead author Dr Jordan Mah from Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA.

He continues, “The bite resulted in colonisation by a bacterium rarely found in humans, and demonstrates that iguanas may be carriers of harmful bacteria capable of producing severe infections. This may help inform health care professionals of less commonly known bacterial infections following unusual zoonotic exposures."

For interviews with the report authors, please contact Dr Jordan Kit Mah, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA. Please e-mail to arrange interview.  E) jmah19@stanford.edu

Alternative contact in the ECCMID Press Room: Tony Kirby T) + 44(0)7834 385827 E) tony@tonykirby.com

For press release in Spanish, click here

For press release in Portuguese, click here

Notes to editors:

This press release is based on oral presentation 6564 at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID). All accepted abstracts have been extensively peer reviewed by the congress selection committee. There is no full paper at this stage, but the authors are happy to answer your questions. The research has been submitted to a medical journal for publication. 

 

 

 

END


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[Press-News.org] Iguana stole my cake! and left behind a nasty surprise
Never get between an iguana and his cake – a cautionary tale of a toddler infected with bacteria that cause tuberculosis-like illness in fish, following an iguana bite