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Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection that causes pus to collect in the body. The type depends on where it starts:
Rarely, the infection can spread from one place in the body to another.
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Certain bacteria cause actinomycosis. They are normal in the mouth and sometimes in the bowels. They get into the body through breaks in the tissues. Tooth decay causes infections in the mouth and jaw. This is the most common type.
Your chances of this infection are higher if you:
Symptoms depend on the where the infection starts. These may involve:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:
Antibiotics treat the infection. Care also involves draining the infection site.
It’s common for the infection to come back, even after getting care.
Taking care of your mouth and teeth are the best way to lower your chances of infection. This involves:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
Canadian Dental Association
Actinomycosis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/anaerobic-bacteria/actinomycosis. Updated January 2018. Accessed May 21, 2018.
Cervicofacial actinomycosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116458/Cervicofacial-actinomycosis. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed May 21, 2018.
Hall V. Actinomyces—gathering evidence of human colonization and infection. Anaerobe. 2008;14(1):1-7.
Naik NH, Russo TA. Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw: the role of actinomyces. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49(11):1729-1732.
Sullivan DC, Chapman SW. Bacteria that masquerade as fungi: actinomycosis/nocardia. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2010;7(3):216-221.
Valour F, Sénéchal A, Dupieux C, et al. Actinomycosis: etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and management. Infect Drug Resist. 2014;7:183-197.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 5/21/2018