Fusobacterium necrophorum infections: virulence factors, pathogenic mechanism and control measures

Vet Res Commun. 1996;20(2):113-40. doi: 10.1007/BF00385634.


Fusobacterium necrophorum, a Gram-negative, non-spore-forming anaerobe, is a normal inhabitant of the alimentary tract of animals and humans. Two types of F. necrophorum, subspecies necrophorum (biotype A) and funduliforme (biotype B), have been recognized, which differ morphologically, biochemically, and biologically. The organism is an opportunistic pathogen that causes numerous necrotic conditions (necrobacillosis) such as bovine hepatic abscesses, ruminant foot abscesses and human oral infections. The pathogenic mechanism of F. necrophorum is complex and not well defined. Several toxins, such as leukotoxin, endotoxin, haemolysin, haemagglutinin and adhesin, have been implicated as virulence factors. Among these, leukotoxin and endotoxin are believed to be more important than other toxins in overcoming the host's defence mechanisms to establish the infection. F. necrophorum is encountered frequently in mixed infections and, therefore, synergisms between F. necrophorum and other pathogens may play an important role in infection. Several investigators have attempted to induce protective immunity against F. necrophorum using bacterins, toxoids, and other cytoplasmic components. Generally, none of the immunogens has afforded satisfactory protection against Fusobacterium infections. Because of the unavailability of suitable immunoprophylaxis, the control of F. necrophorum infection has depended mainly on the use of antimicrobial compounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control
  • Digestive System / microbiology
  • Diphtheria / microbiology
  • Diphtheria / veterinary
  • Female
  • Foot Rot / microbiology
  • Fusobacterium Infections / microbiology
  • Fusobacterium Infections / prevention & control
  • Fusobacterium Infections / veterinary*
  • Fusobacterium necrophorum / isolation & purification
  • Fusobacterium necrophorum / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / microbiology
  • Liver Diseases / veterinary
  • Mastitis, Bovine / microbiology
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / microbiology
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Toxins