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Actinomycosis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Actinomycosis Definition:

Actinomycosis is a chronic infection. Actinomycosis is slowly progressive bacterial infection primarily caused by the anaerobic bacillus Actinomyces israelii. It is a inflammatory disease of cattle, hogs, and sometimes humans and it is characterized by lumpy tumors of the mouth, neck,and chest. It is also called lumpy jaw. Common infection sites of actinomycosis are the head, neck, thorax, and abdomen.

Actinomycosis affects three times as many males as females, with peak incidence in middle decades. People with human immunodeficiency virus infection are at increased risk.

Actinomycosis Causes

Actinomycosis causes disease in multiple organ systems. Actinomycosis is bacterial, which is a common and normally not disease-causing organism found in the nose and throat. Actinomycosis bacteria are present in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth of a person. The bacteria that cause actinomycosis are present in most people. Poor oral hygiene and tooth decay are a primary factor that increases the likelihood of this infection. Thoracic infection results from aspiration of infected oral contents, and may involve the lungs, pleura, mediastinum, or chest wall.

Another common cause of actinomycosis is dental abscess or oral surgery. They cause no trouble unless they get through the skin or some other body membrane, as a result of infection. Eventually, the abscess breaks through the skin surface to produce a draining sinus tract. It can be spread by human or animal bites.

Actinomycosis Symptoms

Actinomrcosis Symptoms appear from days to months after injury, depending on the site of infection.

Some Symptoms of the actinomycosis are:

  • fever.
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • shortness of the breath
  • chest pain
  • Pain
  • A swelling or hard red to reddish-purple lump appearing on the face
  • Draining sores in the skin
  • Varies depending on site
  • Commonly includes the mouth
  • Abscess formation

Actinomycosis Treatments

Treatment for actinomycosis is long term, Drug treatment of actinomycosis involves high-dose penicillin or tetracycline therapy for 2 to 6 weeks

The treatment of actinomycosis used to be excision of necrotic tissue, followed by cauterization.

Other drugs have also been effective. Actinomycosis is difficult to treat because of its dense tissue location.

The antibiotic therapy must be completed to insure that the infection does not return. Hyperbaric oxygen (oxygen under high pressure) therapy in combination with the antibiotic therapy has been successful.

 

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