Trueperella (Arcanobacterium) pyogenes is a causative agent of suppurative infections in domestic and wild animals. In some populations of captive or free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), cranial abscess disease is an important source of mortality in adult males. Although the pathogenesis of this disease is poorly understood, T. pyogenes has been isolated from active infections with other opportunistic bacteria. In this study, bacteria associated with cranial abscess infections were identified, the prevalence of T. pyogenes associated with these infections was determined, and the presence of known virulence determinants in T. pyogenes isolates was ascertained. Using routine biochemical techniques seven bacterial species were identified from 65 samples taken from active cranial abscess infections of 65 male white-tailed deer. Trueperella pyogenes was recovered from 46 samples; in 32 samples it was the only bacterium species detected. Staphylococcus aureus was detected in 26 samples. From these samples, the presence of known and putative virulence genes of T. pyogenes—plo, nanH, nanP, cbpA, fimA, fimC, fimE, and fimG—was examined by conventional polymerase chain reaction. All T. pyogenes isolates were positive for the pyolysin genes plo, nanP, and fimA. Furthermore, nanH, fimA, fimC, and fimE were detected in over 70% of isolates. Of the isolates tested, 48% had genotypes containing all virulence genes except cbpA. The suggestive virulence potential of all isolates, coupled with the large number of pure cultures obtained, implies that T. pyogenes is a causative agent of cranial abscess disease.
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