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Vol. 212, No. 1, 2006
Issue release date: November 2005
Dermatology 2006;212:31–35

Bullous Erysipelas: Clinical Presentation, Staphylococcal Involvement and Methicillin Resistance

Krasagakis K. · Samonis G. · Maniatakis P. · Georgala S. · Tosca A.
Departments of aDermatology and bInternal Medicine, University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, and cDepartment of Dermatology, A. Sygros Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Background: Erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the dermis and hypodermis, mostly of streptococcal origin. Bullous erysipelas represents a severe form of the disease. Objective: To evaluate the clinical and microbiological characteristics and treatment of bullous erysipelas. Methods: Patients with a diagnosis of bullous erysipelas who were treated at the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece, between the years 1996 and 2001 were retrospectively studied. Results: Fourteen patients (11 women, 3 men) with bullous erysipelas were evaluated. The lesions were located on the legs and face in 9 and 4 patients, respectively. The median duration of disease before hospital admission was 4 days. Eight patients had fever at presentation. Local trauma and various lesions were common causes for pathogen entry. The initial empirical antibiotic treatment included intravenous β-lactams and was modified according to the sensitivities of the isolated strains. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from 7 (50%), while S. warneri, Streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli grew from the lesions of 3 other patients. Six out of 7 S. aureus strains were methicillin resistant (MRSA) but susceptible to several other non-β-lactam antibiotics such as quinolones, vancomycin, rifampicin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that S. aureus is frequently involved in and probably contributes in synergy with β-hemolytic streptococci to the complicated course of bullous erysipelas. The frequency of MRSA isolation suggests that β-lactam antibiotics may not be sufficient for the treatment of bullous erysipelas anymore, at least in areas with a high incidence of MRSA strains. The role of other classes of antibiotics providing adequate coverage for MRSA has to be evaluated in prospective clinical trials.

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