Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Fusobacterium necrophorum

Synonym(s): fusobacteriaceae

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Veronica Fowler




  • Domain: bacteria.
  • Phylum: fusobacteria.
  • Class: fusobacteria.
  • Order: fusobacteriales.
  • Family: fusobacteriaceae.
  • Genus: fusobacterium.
  • Species: necrophorum.
  • SubspeciesF. n.subspp necrophorum and F. n.subspp funduliforme.


  • F. n.subsp. necrophroum previously = Biovar A of F. necrophorum.
  • F. n.subsp. funduliforme previously = Biovar B of F. necrophorum.
  • fusus = a spindle; bacterium = a small rod; fusobacterium = a small spindle shaped rod.
  • nekros = the dead; phoreo = to bear; necrophorum = necrosis producing.
  • fundulus = a kind of sausage; forme = in shape of; funduliforme = sausage shaped.

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Clinical Effects



  • Normal inhabitant of mucus membranes.


  • Reproduces by binary fission in anerobic environment.


  • Bacteria are excreted in feces.
  • May also be transmitted through infected material, bodily fluids and contact with mucus membranes.
  • Potentially zoonotic.
  • Exert pathogenic effects when anatomical barriers are breached allowing invasion of underlying tissues or in regions with poor blood supply.

Pathological effects

  • Multiple potential virulence factors:
    • Leukotoxin - including apoptosis and toxic lysis of neutrophils.
    • Hemagglutinins - adherence to epithelium (ruminal).
    • Hemolysins - damage erythrocytes, leading to impaired oxygen transport.
    • Dermonecrotic toxin - lysis of collagen.
  • Fusobacterium n.subsp. necrophorum is the more pathogenic of the two subspecies.


Control via animal

  • Avoid feeding coarse feed to calves which can aid the bacterias invasion of the body.
  • Avoid feeding high concentrations of carbohydrates to feedlot cattle (eg reduce the incidence of rumenitis and SARA Ruminal acidosis.
  • Good hoof care Footbaths.
  • Adequate exercise to improve the blood flow and general health of the hoof.

Control via chemotherapies

Control via environment

  • Provide a clean and dry standing environment.
  • Collect feces.
  • Avoid waterlogged soil.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Tadepalli S, Narayanan S K, Stewart G C, Chengappa M M, Nagaraja T G (2009) Fusobacterium necrophorum: a ruminal bacterium that invades liver to cause abscesses in cattle. Anaerobe 15 (1-2), 36-43 PubMed.
  • Roberts G L (2000) Fusobacterial infections: an underestimated threat. Br J Biomed Sci 57 (2), 156-62.
  • Nagaraja T G & Chengappa M M (1998) Liver abscesses in feedlot cattle: a review. J Anim Sci 76 (1), 287-98 PubMed.
  • Mateos E, Piriz S, Valle J, Hurtado M & Vadillo S (1997) Minimum inhibitory concentrations for selected antimicrobial agents against Fusobacterium necrophorum isolated from hepatic abscesses in cattle and sheep. J Vet Pharmacol Ther 20 (1), 21-3 PubMed.
  • Tan Z L, Nagaraja T G & Chengappa M M (1996) Fusobacterium necrophorum infections: virulence factors, pathogenic mechanism and control measures. Vet Res Commun 20 (2), 113-40 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Nagaraja T G et al (2005) Fusobacterium necrophorum infections in animals: Pathogenesis and pathogenic mechanisms. Anaerobe 11 (4), 239-246 PubMed.
  • Citron D M (2002) Update on the taxonomy and clinical aspects of the genus Fusobacterium. Clin Inf Dis 35 (Suppl 1), 22-27 PubMed.
  • Markey B et al (2013) Non-spore-forming Anaerobes. In: Clinical Veterinary Microbiology. UK: Mosby Elsevier. pp 205-213. 
  • Quinn P J et al (2011) Pathogenic Anaerobic Non-spore-forming Gram-negative Bacteria. In: Veterinary Microbiology and Microbial Disease. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 368-371.
  • Carter G R & Wise D J (2004) Non-Spore-Forming Anaerobic Bacteria. In: Essentials of Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology. Iowa: Iowa State Press. pp 235-238.
  • Hirsh D C (2004) Non-Spore-Forming Obligate Anaerobes. In: Veterinary Microbiology. Blackwell Publishing, Iowa. USA. pp 193-197.


  • List of prokaryotic names with standing in nomenclature (LPSN). Available at: