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Actinomycosis

An acute bacterial infection that is caused by the bacteria acitnomyces, actinomycosis is a rare occurrence in humans. It is more prevalent in cattle. This disease is also called lumpy jaw as it most commonly affects the head and the neck of the affected. Commonly seen on the face, mouth, nose, lungs, neck and abdomen, in women it may show up in the pelvic area too. Though not contagious, it does spread gradually to infiltrate the body's tissues thus causing inflammation or swelling.


Actinomycosis causes sores in the soft tissues in the body. Inflammation of the affected area, formation of multiple abscesses and sinus tracts that discharge sulfur-like granules may also be noticed. This condition is more common in the tropical areas of the world. The condition may not be easily diagnosed but gets painful as it advances. Actinomycosis sets in the soft tissues of the body and if left untreated can affect the surrounding bones. The infected bone needs to be surgically removed.


The type of the disease is classified based on the location of the infection:

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis: Infection in the tissues of the jaw, mouth or neck.

Pelvic actinomycosis: Infection develops in the pelvis, bacteria spreads from the female genitals to the pelvis.

Thoracic actinomycosis: Develops inside the lungs or the connected airways.

Abdominal actinomycosis: Develops in the abdomen when some food particle tears the tissues and allows the bacterium to penetrate into the deep tissues.

Symptoms vary depending on the type of actinomycosis. Commonly reported symptoms include locked jaw, lump in the face or neck, weight loss, chest pain, draining sores on the skin, fatigue, stomach pain and abnormal vaginal discharge.


Cause of actinomycosis

Actinomycosis is caused by a bacterium that lives in the nose and the throat, this bacterium does not cause an infection on its own. It combines with other bacteria that enter the body to cause the infection. In the initial stages this condition is often mistaken as a fungal infection. In general the bacteria may get active along with other bacteria to cause this condition if a person has:


  • A weak immune system caused by other illness or diseases.

  • Neglected dental care after a dental surgery procedure; oral abscess is a major cause for this condition.

  • Is malnourished.

  • Women with an intrauterine device are also considered to be at high risk as the IUD can be a possible cause for the infection to spread.

Diagnosis of the condition is done by


  • Studying the fluid or the tissue sample of the area for the bacteria/infection.

  • Studying the abscess for red or purple color.

  • Reviewing the patients history for the spread/migration of bacteria.

Treatment for actinomycosis includes high doses of penicillin, antibiotics, medical draining of the infected area and removal of the IUD, if that has been the cause for the infection.

Tags: #Actinomycosis
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: August 13, 2020