Ecthyma gangrenosum and septic shock syndrome secondary to Chromobacterium violaceum

Katherine L Brown, Amy Stein, Dean S Morrell
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2006, 54 (5 Suppl): S224-8
Chromobacterium violaceum is a gram-negative bacterium of soil and water in tropical and subtropical environments. Typically, it is considered a bacterium of low virulence although, uncommonly, it causes human infection, particularly in persons with defects in host defenses. Infection generally follows exposure of broken skin to contaminated water and soil, and is often characterized by pustules, lymphadenitis, fever, and vomiting, as well as rapid dissemination and a high mortality rate. Unfortunately, because C violaceum is ubiquitous, it is often dismissed as a contaminant when cultured. Because rapid diagnosis (by taking appropriate specimens) and treatment are vital to a good prognosis, it is imperative that physicians be aware of this organism. In addition, patients with chromobacterial infections should have an immunologic workup because infections in immunocompetent individuals are rare. Here we report an aggressive yet nonfatal case of C violaceum septicemia in an adolescent male, diagnosed through a punch biopsy of a skin lesion, and resulting in a new diagnosis of chronic granulomatous disease.

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