A chronic infectious condition caused by an anaerobic micro-organism, Actinomyces israelii, that often occurs as a COMMENSAL on the gums, teeth and tonsils. Commonest in adult men, the sites most aﬀected are the jaw, lungs and intestine, though the disease can occur anywhere. Suppurating granulomatous tumours develop which discharge an oily, thick pus containing yellowish (‘sulphur’) granules. A slowly progressive condition, actinomycosis usually responds to antibiotic drugs but improvement may be slow and surgery is sometimes needed to drain infected sites. Early diagnosis is important. Treatment is with antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracyclines. The disease occurs in cattle, where it is known as woody tongue.
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