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Free Content The incidence of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacteria in British Columbia, Canada

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SETTING: British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Vancouver, Canada.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) and to assess the impact of new laboratory techniques.

DESIGN: Population-based study of all subjects with positive cultures for NTM from 1990 to 2006.

RESULTS: Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) was the most common NTM isolate (77%). The median incidence rates per 100 000 population in the total sample were respectively 6.7, 4.5 and <0.7 for all NTMs, MAC and all non-MAC species; for NTM-treated subjects the rates were respectively 1.6, 1.4 and <0.08; and for the NTM-colonised they were respectively 4.7, 2.7 and <0.5. In the period after the introduction of new laboratory techniques, all NTM isolates, the overall MAC rate and the MAC-colonised rate increased by respectively 24%, 35.4% and 76% (P < 0.05). All NTM isolates and rates for all NTMs, NTM-treated and M. tuberculosis subjects (used as comparison group) decreased over time (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The most common NTM species was MAC. Episodic increases in the number of isolates and incidence rates of subjects colonised with MAC are likely to be associated with the implementation of new laboratory techniques, which may represent an artefact. The decrease in rates of NTM-treated subjects is reassuring.

Keywords: incidence; non-tuberculous mycobacteria; pulmonary

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of TB Control, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 2: TB/Mycobacteriology Laboratory, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 3: Department of TB Control, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Publication date: 2009-09-01

More about this publication?
  • 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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