Nosocomial infections due to nontuberculous mycobacteria

Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Oct 15;33(8):1363-74. doi: 10.1086/323126. Epub 2001 Sep 5.


Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are ubiquitous in the environment and cause colonization, infection, and pseudo-outbreaks in health care settings. Data suggest that the frequency of nosocomial outbreaks due to NTM may be increasing, and reduced hot water temperatures may be partly responsible for this phenomenon. Attention to adequate high-level disinfection of medical devices and the use of sterile reagents and biologicals will prevent most outbreaks. Because NTM cannot be eliminated from the hospital environment, and because they present an ongoing potential for infection, NTM should be considered in all cases of nosocomial infection, and careful surveillance must be used to identify potential outbreaks. Analysis of the species of NTM and the specimen source may assist in determining the significance of a cluster of isolates. Once an outbreak or pseudo-outbreak is suspected, molecular techniques should be applied promptly to determine the source and identify appropriate control measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / epidemiology*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / microbiology*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / prevention & control
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / classification*
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / genetics*
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / physiology