Disease

Atypical Mycobacteria (Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Infections)

Description

Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a diverse group of bacteria that include more than 150 different species, some of which can infect and cause illness in humans. The term nontuberculous mycobacteria refers to all the species in the family of mycobacteria that may cause human disease but that do not cause tuberculosis (TB). Photo source for M. fortuitum: CDC, Margaret Williams and Janice Haney Carr

These bacteria are common throughout the world, thriving in soil and water – including rivers and swamps, treated drinking water, swimming pools, hot tubs, humidifiers, aquariums/fish tanks, and garden soils – in both rural and urban settings. Significantly, NTM often contaminate the water supplies of hospitals and other medical facilities. Because they are protected by their waxy, fatty (lipid-rich) cell walls, NTM are resistant to usual disinfectants, water treatment measures, and antibiotics.


Related Test

AFB smear 
Molecular tests for NTM 
AFB cultures 
Susceptibility testing 


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