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breast infection

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Mastitis is an inflammatory condition of the breast. This may or may not be accompanied by infection of the breast (1).

Symptoms suggestive of an infection may be seen in both infectious and non infectious mastitis although pyrexia (flu like) symptoms is more likely to persist for longer than 24 hours in infectious mastitis and may also produce considerable breast discomfort (1).

Clinical features of mastitis include:

  • red, swollen, inflamed area of the breast
  • breast is hot to touch
  • fever of >38°C
  • flu-like symptoms which include chills, headache, muscle aches
  • painful lump caused by a blocked duct (1)

In around 3% of patients, mastitis may be complicated by a breast abscess (1).

Common organisms responsible for mastitis and breast abscess are

  • Staphylococcus aureus – most common
  • Esherichia coli (or other gram negative bacteria)
  • Bacteroides
  • streptococci (alpha, beta and non-haemolytic) (1)

The majority of breast infections may be divided into four groups:

  • neonatal infection
  • infections in lactating women
  • infections in non-lactating women
  • infections resulting from localised skin infection

Reference:

Last reviewed 03/2020

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