Actinobacillosis (Woody Tongue) and Actinomycosis (Lumpy Jaw)

By Barry Whitworth, DVM / Area Food/Animal Quality and Health Specialist for Eastern Oklahoma

Actinobacillosis and Actinomycosis, both of which are better known as “woody tongue” and “lumpy jaw” respectively, are two common infections seen in cattle. Occasionally, both of the bacteria are seen in other animals such as sheep, pig, horses, and dogs. In cattle “woody tongue” is associated with the tongue, head and neck regions of cattle. “Lumpy jaw” is manifested as a bone infection in the upper and lower jaws or other bones in the head region of cattle. On rare occasions, both organisms may be found in other areas of the body and internal organs. There is a tendency by some to lump them together as one disease, but they are two separate diseases.

The bacterium that causes “woody tongue” is called Actinobacillus lignieresii. The microorganism does not survive long in the environment. It can live around five days outside the animal host.

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