Bone is usually quite resistant to infection but when it is infected bacteria get to it from wounds (bites, foreign bodies, gunshots) but also from distant locations via the blood stream. Acute infection is accompanied by fever, loss of appetite and weight, lethargy and heat and swelling in the muscles surrounding the site of infection.
Diagnosis and treatment
Blood tests reveal the body is fighting an infection. X-rays show bony change consistent with infection-induced damage. Bacterial culture and sensitivity identifies the specific cause. Osteomyelitis is difficult to treat. Acute infections are treated for a month or more with antibiotics that penetrate bone tissue. Chronic infection requires additional surgical intervention to remove dead tissue.