Pulmonary actinomycosis is a rare lung infection caused by bacteria.
Actinomycosis - pulmonary; Actinomycosis - thoracic
Pulmonary actinomycosis is caused by certain bacteria normally found in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria often do not cause harm. But poor dental hygiene and tooth abscess can increase your risk for lung infections caused by these bacteria.
People with the following health problems also have a higher chance of developing the infection:
The disease is rare in the United States. It may occur at any age, but is most common in people 30 to 60 years old. Men get this infection more often than women.
The infection often comes on slowly. It may be weeks or months before diagnosis is confirmed.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. It may take a long time to get better. To be cured, you may need to receive the antibiotic penicillin through a vein (intravenously) for 2 to 6 weeks. Then you need to take penicillin by mouth for a long period. Some people need up to 18 months of antibiotic treatment.
If you cannot take penicillin, your provider will prescribe other antibiotics.
Surgery may be needed to drain fluid from the lungs and control the infection.
Most people get better after treatment with antibiotics.
Complications may include:
Call your provider if:
Good dental hygiene may help reduce your risk for actinomycosis.
Brook I. Actinomycosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 313.
Russo TA. Agents of actinomycosis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 254.
There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.