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Nocardia infection

  • Alternative Names



    Symptoms vary and depend on the organs involved.

    • Lungs (pulmonary nocardiosis):
      • Chest pain when breathing (may occur suddenly or slowly)
      • Coughing up blood
      • Fevers
      • Night sweats
      • Weight loss
    • Brain (cerebral nocardiosis):
      • Fever
      • Headache
      • Seizures
    • Skin:
      • May become chronically infected (mycetoma) and develop draining tracts
      • Ulcers or nodules with infection sometimes spreading along lymph nodes

    Some people with nocardia infection have no symptoms.

    Signs and tests

    Nocardia infection should be suspected in people with lung, brain, or skin symptoms if they also have a condition or conditions that weaken the immune system.

    Nocardiosis is diagnosed using tests that identify the bacteria. Depending on the part of the body infected, testing may involve taking a tissue sample by:

    • Brain biopsy
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Lung biopsy
    • Skin biopsy
    • Sputum culture