Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Actinobacillus lignieresii

Synonym(s): Wooden tongue causal organism

Contributor(s): Veronica Fowler , Tammy Hassel




  • Kingdom: bacteria.
  • Phylum: proteobacteria.
  • Class: gammaproteobacteria.
  • Order: pasteurellales.
  • Family: pasteurellaceae.
  • Genus: actinobacillus.
  • Species: actinobacillus lignieresii.


  • aktis -inos (Greek) – “Ray”, bacillus (Latin) – “Rod”.
  • Actinobacillus lignieresii is named after the scientist J. Ligni√®res who together with G. Spitz, first isolated the organism in 1904.

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Clinical Effects



  • Found as a commensal bacteria of the upper respiratory and alimentary tract of cattle. 


  • Cells divide by binary fission to produce pairs.


  • Can lead to disease when entering the body through abrasions or cuts in the buccal mucosa.

Pathological effects

  • Hardening and swelling of the tongue causing it to protrude from the mouth (a condition known as ‘wooden tongue’).
  • Hard swollen lesion in other tissues of the head and neck, particularly the gums and cheeks.
  • Infection can disseminate to the lymph nodes and can spread to the lungs.
  • Virulence factors of A. lignieresii are unknown; however the characteristic lesions are caused by a granulomatous reaction due to a cell-mediated immune response within the epithelial cells.
  • Affected cattle may salivate profusely.
  • Affected animals are unable to eat or swallow resulting in a loss of condition.


Control via animal

  • Isolate and treat clinically affected animals.
  • Surgical draining of the lesions may be required if breathing is impaired.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Oral Potassium Potassium iodide or intravenous injection of Sodium Sodium iodide can be effective.
  • Usually susceptible to Penicillin Penicillin and Streptomycin Streptomycin antibiotics in combination; and also potentiated sulphonamide antibiotics.

Control via environment

  • Prevention of actinobacillos in ruminants primarily relies on avoidance of poor quality, coarse, feedstuffs and pastures containing plants with sharp stems or thorns (eg thistles).


  • There is no vaccine available to prevent infection with A. lignieresii.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Cahalan S D, Sheridan L, Akers C R, Lorenz I & Cassidy J (2012) Atypical cutaneous actinobacillosis in young beef cattle. Vet Rec 171 (15), 375 PubMed.
  • Christensen H & Bisgaard M (2004) Revised definition of Actinobacillus sensu stricto isolated from animals. A review with special emphasis on diagnosis. Vet Microbiol 99 (1), 13-30 PubMed.
  • Dhand N K, Sandhu K S, Singh J & Randhawa S S (2003) Outbreak of actinobacillosis in dairy cows. Vet Rec 153 (9), 280 PubMed.
  • Rycroft A N & Garside (2000) L H Actinobacillus species and their role in animal disease. Vet J 159 (1), 18-36 PubMed.
  • Nakazawa M, Azuma R, Yamashita T, Iwao T & Uchimura M (1977) Collective outbreaks of bovine actinobacillosis. Nihon Juigaku Zasshi 39 (5), 549-557 PubMed.
  • Campbell S G, Whitlock trh, Timoney J F & Underwood A M (1975) An unusual epizootic of actinobacillosis in dairy heifers. J Am Vet Med Assoc 166 (6), 604-606 PubMed.