Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection that results in abscesses (collections of pus) in the jaw, abdominal cavity, lungs, or all over the body. This condition can be treated, so contact your doctor if you think you may have actinomycosis.
Actinomycosis is most often caused by infection by the bacterium, Actinomyces israelii. This is normally present in the mouth and, to a lesser extent, in the intestines. The jaw is most commonly involved, with lung and abdominal infections being less common. Very rarely, women may develop abscesses in the reproductive organs or bladder.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include:
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
High doses of antibiotics are used to treat actinomycosis.
Your doctor will drain pus-containing abscesses.
The best way to reduce your chances of developing actinomycosis is to prevent dental disease by practicing good dental hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist. Good dental hygiene includes:
American Dental Association
National Institutes of Health
Canadian Dental Association
Actinomycosis. DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed101.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=116458 . Accessed December 3, 2006.
Actinomycosis. Merck website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec17/ch190/ch190b.html . Accessed December 3, 2006.
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.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Igor Puzanov, MD
Last Updated: 11/26/2012