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An abscess is a localized collection of pus contained within the body cavity. The cavity is formed in tissues, due to local suppurative inflammation. Tissue reactions against the invading organism foreign body as well as degenerative changes are evident in zone of tissue surrounding the pus. Tissue zone is called ‘pyogenic membrane’ even though there is no membrane as such.
Classification of Abscess
1. Acute abscess: In this the inflammatory symptoms are quite active.
2. Chronic abscess: In this the inflammatory symptoms are less active and the pus may become partly inspissated or liquefied.
3. Superficial abscess: It is situated superficially.
4. Deep abscess: An abscess that is deep seated.
5. Embolic abscess: Developing from a septic embolus.
6. Pyaemic or metastic abscess: A number of abscesses developing in different parts of the body.
Signs of Abscess in Animals
• Determined by organ system and/or tissue affected.
• A rapidly appearing, painful swelling with or without discharge (if affected area is visible).
• Associated with a combination of inflammation (seen as pain, swelling, redness, heat, and loss of function), tissue destruction, and/or organ system dysfunction caused by accumulation of pus.
• A discrete mass of varying size may be detectable; the mass may be firm or fluid-filled.
• Inflammation and discharge from a draining tract may be visible if the abscess is superficial and has ruptured toan external surface.
• Fever, if abscess is not ruptured and draining.
• Generalized bacterial infection (sepsis) occasionally, especially if abscess ruptures internally.
• Trauma (injury) or previous infection.
• Foreign objects.
• Pus-causing bacteria Staphylococcus; Escherichia coli.
• Bacteria that can only live and grow in the absence of oxygen (known as “obligate anaerobic bacteria”).
Effects of Abscess in an Animal
The effect of abscess is determined by the organ, system or tissue affected.
The following organs and tissues are listed with their risk factors:
• Anal sac—impaction; anal sac inflammation.
• Brain—inner ear infection (otitis interna); sinus infection (sinusitis); infection in the mouth (oral infection)
• Liver—inflammation of the umbilical veins (omphalophlebitis); generalized bacterial infection (sepsis)
• Lung—foreign object aspiration; bacterial pneumonia
• Mammary gland—mastitis
• Tissues around the eye (periorbital tissues)—dental disease; chewing of wood or other plant material
• Skin—fighting (fight wounds)
• Prostate gland—bacterial infection of the prostate (bacterial prostatitis)
• Immunosuppression (diseases or drug therapy that lead to an inability to develop a normal immune response)—Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, immunosuppressive chemotherapy, acquired or inherited immune system dysfunctions, underlying predisposing disease (such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney failure, hyperadrenocorticism (condition in which the adrenal glands produce excessive steroids)
Abscesses often burst and heal with no treatment. There is no need to give antibiotic
injections to animals with abscesses unless they have a fever or are sick. Antibiotics can
stop abscesses becoming soft and bursting. They can make an abscess grow a thick
wall around itself and stay for a long time.
• If an abscess is not soft and ready to burst, hold a cloth soaked in hot water over it
for a few minutes several times a day until it becomes softer and ready to burst. Or
put a poultice onto an abscess to make it burst. Or wait till it is soft and cut
into it to drain pus out of it.
• Make an X-shaped cut into the abscess at the lowest point so that pus can drain out
easily. Squeeze it till pus stops coming out. Sometimes clean blood comes out after
the pus. This is a good sign that you have drained all the pus.
• When you have squeezed out all the pus, wash out the abscess. Use an old syringe,
without a needle, filled with clean water or antiseptic to wash out any pus
that is left. Washing the abscess out two or three times is usually enough.
• Some abscesses need to drain for a few days before all the pus comes out. To stop
the hole you have made from closing, soak a long strip of cloth in antiseptic and
push it through the hole. Leave a short piece hanging out, pull a short length out
every day until the abscess has drained.
• Wash your hands after treating abscesses and clean any equipment you have used.
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