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Free Content Non-tuberculous mycobacteria: patterns of isolation. A multi-country retrospective survey

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OBJECTIVE: To collect data on non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) isolated from clinical laboratories in different countries to establish: 1) whether the isolation of NTM was increasing, 2) which species were increasing, and 3) whether there was any pattern of geographical distribution.

DESIGN: In 1996, the Working Group of the Bacteriology and Immunology Section of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease contacted 50 laboratories in different countries for the necessary information.

RESULTS: The number of patients reported with NTM was 36099 from 14 countries. Mycobacterium avium complex, M. gordonae, M. xenopi, M. kansasii and M. fortuitum were the five species most frequently isolated. There was a significant upward trend for M. avium complex and M. xenopi. Pigmented mycobacteria predominated in Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Non-chromogenic mycobacteria were found to be predominant in the area of the Atlantic coast of Brazil and in Turkey, the United Kingdom, Finland and Denmark.

CONCLUSIONS: There was an increase in the number of NTM isolated from clinical samples of patients. Isolation of the most frequent species is constantly changing in most of the geographical areas, and newer species are emerging due to better diagnostic techniques to detect and identify NTM.
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Keywords: epidemiology; geographical distribution; isolation; non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Servicio de Microbiologia, Hospital Universitario Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain 2: Department of Microbiology, Pasteur Institute, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran 3: International Reference Laboratory of Mycobacteriology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark 4: Department of Microbiology, Instituto Adolfo Luz, Sao Paulo, Brazil 5: Institut Pasteur, Department of Microbiology, Brussels, Belgium 6: Department of Microbiology, Zentralkrankeenhaus, Gauting, Germany 7: Department of Microbiology, National Institute of Public Health, Prague, Czech Republic 8: Department of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland 9: TB Unit, Düzen Laboratories, Istanbul, Turkey 10: Tuberculosis and Mycobacteria Reference Laboratory, Instituto Nacional de Saúde, Porto, Portugal 11: Department of Medical Microbiology, Swiss National Center for Mycobacteria, Zurich, Switzerland 12: Department of Mycobacteriology, Institute Tropische Geneeskunde, Antwerp, Belgium 13: Servicio de Epidemiología y Medicina Preventiva, Hospital Universitario Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain 14: National Reference Center for Mycobacteria, Zentrum für Medizin und Biowissenschaften, Borstel, Germany 15: Laboratorio di Microbiologia e Virologia, Ospedale Careggi, Florence, Italy 16: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France 17: Scottish Mycobacteria Reference Laboratory, City Hospital, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Publication date: 2004-10-01

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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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