What is Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection is an extremely uncommon bacterial infection caused by Nocardia asteroides bacterium. This bacterium is mostly found in soil and contaminated water. An individual can get infected when they come in contact with a contaminated soil or water. The bacteria may also enter the body through an open cut or wound or an abrasion. Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection is not contagious and does not spread from one person to another.

Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection most commonly affects the lungs but may also spread to other areas of the body like skin, the gastrointestinal system, heart, brain, and bones. Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection can affect anyone but is found to occur mainly in elderly population who have a compromised immune state or people with an immune system disorder. The immune system of an individual can become weak due to cancer, diabetes, lung infections, HIV, individual who have recently undergone organ transplants, or prolonged use of steroids.

Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection is quite rare in the United States and approximately only about 1000 cases are reported every year. Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection is an infection which responds very slowly to treatment and hence its complications can be very catastrophic in individuals who have a weak immune system, especially if there is any sort of delay in starting treatment for Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection.

What is Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

What Causes Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

As stated, Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection is caused by bacterium Nocardia asteroides. This bacterium is most commonly found in soil and contaminated water. An individual can get infected with Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection if he or she inhales the bacteria or the bacteria enter the body through a cut or wound. Lungs are most affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection, but it may also spread to other areas of the body like heart, skin, and brain. This infection can be quite serious in people who have a compromised immune system, which can as a result of certain medical conditions or procedures like HIV or an organ transplant.

What are the Symptoms of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

The symptoms of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection are variable and depend on the area which is affected.

If the lungs are affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection then the symptoms are:

If the skin is affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection then the individual may have the following symptoms:

  • Open sores which may discharge some fluid.
  • Ulcers.
  • Rashes on the surface of the skin.
  • Lymph node swelling.

If the gastrointestinal system is affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection then the symptoms experienced will be

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Abdominal swelling.

If the brain gets affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection then the symptoms experienced will be:

How is Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection, the physician may first take a chest x-ray to look at the status of the lungs, as they are the first to be affected by this condition. This may be followed by a bronchoscopy and a lung biopsy to look at the presence of the bacteria. In case if the patient has symptoms that seem to point to a brain involvement, then a brain biopsy may also be performed. A sputum culture may also be performed to look for the presence of Nocardiosis bacteria. The results of these tests will confirm the diagnosis of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection.

What is the Treatment for Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

Almost all of the cases of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection are treated with long term antibiotics given at a relatively low dose. These antibiotics are known as sulfonamides. The treatment for Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection usually lasts for a period of six months, but may even go up to as long as one year. If the infection is severe and has spread to other parts, then the treatment may still be further prolonged. In case if there is abscess formation due to Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection, then draining of the abscess is recommended.

What are the Complications of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection?

Some of the complications of Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection are:

  • Prolonged lung infection leading to scarring and chronic shortness of breath.
  • A skin infection leading to scarring.
  • There may be certain loss of brain function in case if the brain gets affected by Nocardiosis or Nocardia Infection.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: March 23, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar

Views: 173

  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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