Lumpy Jaw

Lumpy jaw is a disease that produces permanent hard swellings on the jaw bones of cattle. These lumps are found mostly in the molar teeth and can affect both the upper and lower jaw. The causative organism of Lumpy jaw can also enter the open wounds in the mouth. The situation can become worse with large swellings in the mouth of the cattle. Because of the nature and location of the disease cattle may have difficulty eating and drinking.

Common Names

Lumpy jaw is also known as Actinomycosis. The name of the disease comes from the appearance of the mouth with swellings inside.

Causative Organism

Lumpy jaw is caused by a fungus called Actinomyces bovis. This microbe can live without oxygen. The fungus enters the lining of the mouth while cattle feed. While chewing rough forage, small wounds or cuts may develop inside the mouth – this makes the animal more susceptible to the fungal microbes. The chance of spreading this disease from one animal to another is rare, but is possible.

Common Symptoms

  1. Lumps are formed on the joints inside the mouth
  2. The tissues inside the mouth become sift and swollen
  3. There might be a presence of yellow pus in the swollen areas
  4. Nearby areas of the mouth might be affected which may cause chewing to become very difficult and painful for the animal
  5. Cattle may lose teeth irregularly
  6. A gradual weakness can be seen in the affected cattle as they avoid eating
  7. Difficulty in breathing

How it Affects Cattle

As the lumpy jaw condition worsens, chewing of food becomes difficult and painful. Cattle will continue to weaken and may experience deterioration of the soft tissues near the infection. The disease may also lead to secondary conditions such as indigestion and chronic bloat.

Regional Impacts

Due to the nature of the disease and its connection with eating – a large number of cases of lumpy jaw are found throughout the year. Areas with rough forage have a higher rate of incident than those areas where pastures of soft grass are the primary source of food.

Risks & Dangers

The causative organism of lumpy jaw can be found in the mouth of healthy animals. The microbe can only cause the infection if it can enter through a wound or cuts. If by some way or the other, the affected jaws are cut – then the pus might spread to unaffected areas. The danger with lumpy jaw is that it might go undetected up to an advanced stage.


The affected areas are treated with iodine solutions. Antibiotics such as Tetracyclines also might be used. With effective treatment and quick diagnosis, the cost of medical expenses is significantly reduced.

Vaccines & Prevention

Currently there is not a vaccine meant to prevent future instances of Lumpy jaw. The best way to prevent the disease is to recognize the symptoms and cull the infected animal from the others.

References and Resources

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P.O. Box 913
Spring Branch, TX 78070