The diagnosis and management of pulmonary actinomycosis

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Journal of Infection and Public Health


Pulmonary actinomycosis is a rare infection caused by the bacterial species actinomyces. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of pulmonary actinomycosis to improve awareness and knowledge. The literature was analysed using databases including Pubmed, Medline and Embase from 1974 to 2021. After inclusion and exclusion, a total of 142 papers were reviewed. Pulmonary actinomycosis is a rare disease occurring in approximately 1 per 3,000,000 people annually. Historically, pulmonary actinomycosis was a common infection with high mortality; however, the infection has become rarer since the widespread use of penicillins. Actinomycosis is known as "the great masquerade"; however, it can be differentiated from other diseases with acid-fast negative ray-like bacilli and sulphur granules being pathognomonic. Complications of the infection include empyema, endocarditis, pericarditis, pericardial effusion, and sepsis. The mainstay of treatment is prolonged antibiotic therapy, with adjuvant surgery in severe cases. Future research should focus on multiple areas, including the potential risk secondary to immunosuppression from newer immunotherapies, the utility of newer diagnostic techniques and ongoing surveillance post-therapy.

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