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Am J Emerg Med. 1994 May;12(3):343-6.

Needle licker's osteomyelitis.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Mercy Catholic Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA.


Eikenella corrodens, a fastidious, slow-growing, gram-negative, facultative anaerobic bacillus may be encountered in wounds exposed to human saliva, especially human bites and head and neck infections. An unusual case of a mixed flora E corrodens and Streptococcus septic arthritis with adjacent osteomyelitis secondary to saliva contamination from licking an intravenous (i.v.) needle is presented. A literature search showed 53 previous cases of E corrodens infections in i.v. drug users. However, none of these infections affected bones or joints. The microbiology and unusual antibiotic sensitivity are presented. Recommendations for treatment include penicillin or ampicillin. Tetracycline is recommended in the penicillin-allergic patient. This is the first case that draws attention to the connection between E corrodens, i.v. drug use, and septic arthritis and osteomyelitis.

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