Occurrence of nontuberculous mycobacteria in environmental samples

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Jun;65(6):2492-6. doi: 10.1128/AEM.65.6.2492-2496.1999.


Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a major cause of opportunistic infection in immunocompromised hosts. Because there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission and NTM have been found in drinking water, the environment is considered a likely source of infection. In this study the widespread occurrence of NTM was examined in drinking water, bottled water, and ice samples. A total of 139 samples were examined for NTM by a membrane filtration culture technique followed by PCR amplification and 16S rRNA sequence determination to identify the isolates. NTM were not detected in bottled water or cisterns but were detected in 54% of the ice samples and 35% of the public drinking-water samples from 21 states. The most frequently occurring isolate was M. mucogenicum (formerly referred to as an M. chelonae-like organism).

MeSH terms

  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Mycobacterium / classification*
  • Mycobacterium / genetics
  • Mycobacterium / isolation & purification*
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / classification
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / genetics
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Supply*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S