Persistent colonisation of potable water as a source of Mycobacterium avium infection in AIDS

Lancet. 1994 May 7;343(8906):1137-41. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(94)90239-9.


The source of Mycobacterium avium infection in AIDS has not been identified and it is not known whether most patients with AIDS acquire the organism from recent infection or by reactivation of previous infection. As part of a prospective epidemiological study, we isolated multiple colonies of M avium from patients with AIDS and from potable water to which they had been exposed. All isolates were analysed with pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). As judged by PFGE, 29 (81%) of 36 patients were infected with one or more unique clinical strains of M avium. 7 patients (19%) were infected with three groups of common strains. Group 1 included 3 patients who lived in separate rural areas and had no common exposures apart from treatment at hospital A. The same strain was isolated repeatedly during 41 months from a recirculating hot water system at hospital A; residential water cultures were negative. Group 2 included 2 patients with no common exposures apart from treatment at hospital B; the same strain was isolated repeatedly over a period of 24 months from a recirculating hot water system at hospital B. Patients in groups 1 and 2 had numerous possible exposures to hospital hot water. Group 3 included 2 patients treated at the same methadone treatment facility. In an institution the hot water system may be persistently colonised with a particular strain of M avium. HIV-infected patients exposed to these water sources can develop disseminated M avium infection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / transmission
  • Adult
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / transmission
  • Cross Infection / diagnosis
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / transmission
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium avium Complex* / classification
  • Mycobacterium avium Complex* / isolation & purification
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / diagnosis
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / epidemiology*
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / prevention & control
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / transmission
  • New Hampshire / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Serotyping
  • Water Microbiology*