wikiHow to Prevent Actinomycosis

Actinomycosis is a rare but sub-acute or chronic bacterial infection most commonly of the jaw, thorax, or abdomen. It is most commonly caused by Actinomyces Israeli, but may also be caused by other Actinomyces species.

Actinomycosis is transmitted person-to-person via contact of the oral flora. Here are steps to prevent actinomycosis.


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    Maintain good dental hygiene. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and take care to remove dental plaque as much as possible, in order to reduce the risk of infection around teeth. Of particular concern is if you get a dental abscess – see your doctor immediately for treatment.
    • See your dentist for dental check-ups regularly.
    • If you have a decaying tooth, have it seen to immediately.
    • Dental surgery can be a source of Actinomycosis. Talk to your dentist about necessary precautions prior to surgery.
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    Apart from good dental hygiene, be aware that other sources of Actinomycosis may be harder to prevent, depending on your personal situation. While infection tends to occur most frequently on the face and neck, it can also occur in the abdomen (gastrointestinal), genito-urinary tract or thoracic area. The next steps detail a few things you can do help guard your health.
    • Tissue damaged from radiotherapy can be susceptible to Actinomycosis.[1]
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    Know the symptoms of appendicitis and get immediate treatment. Obviously, appendicitis should be treated immediately but be aware that one possible side effect of appendicitis can be the development of Actinomycosis in the stomach.[2] Speak to your treatment team if you have concerns after the appendectomy.
    • Previous abdominal surgery can predispose you to Actinomycosis.[3]
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    Be alert if using IUDs. Actinomycosis has been seen in women who use IUDs as contraception. Pelvic Actinomycosis tends to occur only in women because the actinomyces bacteria are spread from the female genitals into the pelvis. This can occur as a result of long-term usage of IUDs (especially if they're not changed according to the instructions), so it is important to discuss the possible implications with your doctor.
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    Avoid getting into physical fights. Minimize the risk of getting bitten, which can be a source of transmitting the Actinomyces bacteria.
    • If you do get a human bite, wash the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, and seek medical care.
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    Seek treatment if necessary. If you are infected by Actinomycosis, your doctor will suggest a course of treatment. If an infection develops, systemic antibiotics (high dose penicillin or tetracycline) may be needed, sometimes over a course of months. Sometimes the patient may need surgical drainage to remove pus from the abscess or to repair damaged tissue. Most people recover fully with treatment.


  • Symptoms of Actinomycosis include:
    • Swelling and inflammation of affected tissue
    • Tissue damage, scar formation
    • Lumpy jaw
    • Abscesses (pus-filled) swellings
    • Holes or tunnels form in tissues and a lumpy pus leaks from these
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Usually pain is not associated with this infection.
  • All Actinomyces species are gram-positive, nonacid-fast anaerobic to micro-aerophilic bacteria that may be part of the normal oral flora. Lesions of actinomycosis contains sulfur granules, colonies of the infectious agent, from which a culture may be obtained for diagnosis.
  • Minimize oral contact with others, especially with strangers and known carriers. While not contagious, if trauma is suffered to the body, the bacteria can be spread through wounds, bites and other punctures to the skin. However, it is thought possible to get thoracic Actinomycosis through inhaling droplets of contaminated fluid into the lungs.


  • Meningitis can be a complication arising from this infection. However, this is rare.
  • This disease is more common where dental hygiene is poor and where access to or use of antibiotics is low or negligible.

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