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Free Content What is the meaning of repeated isolation of Mycobacterium africanum?

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Mycobacterium africanum is a member of the tuberculosis complex, together with M. tuberculosis and M. bovis. Its morphological growth is quite different from that of M tuberculosis. It is a causative agent of the same tuberculosis disease, and its precise identification seems important only for epidemiological purposes. We report here the repetitive isolation of 17 M. africanum strains (among 321 TB complex strains) during a national primary resistance survey in Côte d'Ivoire in 1995. All of the M. africanum strains were isolated in four regions located in the same geographical area. They showed biochemical heterogeneity yielding three patterns, none of which was specific to one region. Molecular analysis by RFLP for 14 strains showed identical patterns for four strains, two by two, and a clustering of 62–77% homology for eight of the 14 strains (57%). This report confirms that M. africanum is less frequent than M. tuberculosis. Its repeated isolation may reflect inter-human transmission. Biochemical similarities between strains may not always be associated with a common geographical origin.

Keywords: Mycobacterium africanum; epidemiology; tuberculosis

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Centre de Diagnostic et de Recherche sur le SIDA et les Infections Opportunistes (CeDReS) CHU de Treichville, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire 2: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire 3: Institut de Médecine Tropicale Prince Léopold, Antwerp, Belgium 4: Programme National de Lutte contre le SIDA, les Maladies Sexuellement Transmissibles et la Tuberculose (PNLS/MST/Tub), Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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