Microbiology Case Study: A 28 Year Old Female with Cough.

Case History

A 28 y/o female with a past medical history of chronic eosinophilic pneumonia, chronic persistent asthma, and elevated IgE status post Xolair therapy presented with a cough. She is a former smoker and a former IV drug user. She has been having a productive cough since March and has not improved despite multiple courses of antibiotic therapy. She coughs mostly in the morning and describes her sputum as thick and greenish. She does not have any associated fevers and does not feel that her rescue inhalers help much. She was given a course of doxycycline for 10 days, and sputum was sent for culture.

Laboratory Identification

Image 1: Gram stain showed many polys, moderate mixed gram positive and gram negative organisms. Sputum culture was reported out as mixed gram negatives.
Image 2: Chocolate and blood agar plates of the mixed gram positive and gram negative organisms.

One of the gram negative rods was identified by the MALDI-ToF as Pasteurella multocida.


The genus Pasteurella consists of multiple identified species with the one most commonly seen in the clinical setting as Pasteurella multocida. As a genus, they are typically gram-negative straight bacilli that are nonmotile, oxidase-positive, catalase-positive, nitrate reducing, and ferment glucose. They will grow on blood and on chocolate agars, but importantly will not grow on MacConkey. Their colony morphology on blood agar is generally convex, smooth, and nonhemolytic.

Infections with Pasteurella are classically associated with animal bites, such as from a dog or cat. However, prior cases in the literature have shown that pulmonary infection with Pasteurella can be associated with other chronic pulmonary diseases such as COPD (1). The choice for using doxycycline is supported in the literature and was specifically discussed in a prior case with improvement (2).


  1. Klein NC. et al. Pasteurella multocida pneumonia. Semin Respir Infect 1997; 12 (1): 54-56.
  2. Bhat S. et al. A case of lower respiratory tract infection with canine-associated Pasteurella canis in a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. J Clin Diagn Res 2015; 9 (8): DD03-DD04.


-Jeff Covington, MD, PhD, is a 1st year anatomic and clinical pathology resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center.


-Christi Wojewoda, MD, is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Vermont Medical Center and an Associate Professor at the University of Vermont.

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