Arcanobacterium haemolyticum infection: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Arcanobacterium haemolyticum can cause various infections such as head and neck infections, pharyngitis, and sinusitis.


Arcanobacterium haemolyticum is a catalase-negative, aerobic, β-hemolytic, nonmotile, Gram-positive bacillus, can cause respiratory infection, venous ulcer, skin and soft tissue infection, and ankle joint infection after trauma. 0.5% - 2.5% of pharyngitis is caused by the bacteria, mostly in adolescents. The sphingomyelinase secreted by the bacteria has a toxic effect on mammalian cell membranes and can lead to inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms

Clinical manifestations vary depending upon the different infected organs. Generally, mild pharyngitis or diphtheroid infections can be present. However, septicemia may occur in severe patients. Morbilliform or scarlatinoid skin lesions are present, mainly in the trunk and extremities.


Bacterial isolation and culture can assist the diagnosis, and Western blotting may be helpful in the diagnosis.


Erythromycin is effective, and large doses of penicillin G can be applied to severe patients.