Survival of Mycobacteria



Mycobacterium is a genus of Actinobacteria, given its own family, the Mycobacteriaceae. Over 190 species are recognized in this genus. This genus includes pathogens known to cause serious diseases in mammals, including tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae) in humans. The Greek prefix myco- means "fungus," alluding to the way mycobacteria has been observed to grow in a mold-like fashion on the surface of cultures. It is acid fast and cannot be stained by the Gram stain procedure.

Survival in water and epidemiology

Mycobacteria are ubiquitous organisms and globally found in drinking water systems. Different warm water systems, such as hot tubs, circulating bath systems and hospital water systems are recognized as potential sources of diseases caused by M. avium.

A review by Whiley and colleagues highlighted the concern of M. avium in public health. However, the authors alluded to the fact that there was limited research on the incidence of MAC infections. The researchers found that potable water was recognized as a putative pathway for MAC infection particularly contaminated potable water sources, e.g. showers, faucets, swimming pools and hot tub spas.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex

The pathogens that cause tuberculosis are mycobacteria that belong to the M. tuberculosis complex. In 1882 the German physician and microbiologist Robert Koch discovered M. tuberculosis to be the causative pathogen of phthisis. Based on this discovery, diagnosis of the disease could considerably be improved. Koch published his findings on March 24th 1882 in the Berlin Society of Physiology. Therefore, March 24th is now known to be World Tuberculosis Day, initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tuberculosis infections usually arise from patients, who suffer from active and thus infectious pulmonary tuberculosis. The pathogens are transmitted via droplet infection through the air by coughing or sneezing. The risk of infection is increased by bad hygiene conditions and in densely populated areas. As the pathogens infect cells of the immune system, so-called macrophages, especially infants and immune compromised persons are at risk. In most cases the immune system succeeds in fighting the bacteria or in encapsulating them. Mycobacteria can then persist in the body for several years as latent tuberculosis without causing any symptoms. It cannot be predicted when and if reactivation occurs. Even though every organ can be affected, the disease is manifested as pulmonary tuberculosis in 80% of the patients.

Mycobacteria are a type of germ. There are many different kinds. The most common one causes tuberculosis. Another one causes leprosy. Still others cause infections that are called atypical mycobacterial infections. They aren't "typical" because they don't cause tuberculosis. But they can still harm people, especially people with other problems that affect their immunity, such as AIDS.

Sometimes you can have these infections with no symptoms at all. At other times, they can cause lung symptoms similar to tuberculosis: Cough, Weight loss, Coughing up blood or mucus, Weakness or fatigue, Fever and chills, Night sweats, Lack of appetite and weight loss and Medicines can treat these infections, but often more than one is needed to cure the infection.

The journal of “Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis” is a peer reviewed medical journal that includes a wide range of topics in this fields including Bacteriology, Clinical and Medical Diagnostics, Parasitology, Bacterial Infections and creates a platform for the authors to make their contribution towards the journal. The editorial office promises a thorough peer review of the submitted manuscripts to ensure quality.

Best Regards,

Mary Wilson,

Associate Managing Editor,

Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis