Mycobacterium abscessus Displays Fitness for Fomite Transmission.


Mycobacterium abscessus is a rapidly growing nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) increasingly reported in soft tissue infections and chronic lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis. The environmental source of M. abscessus has not been definitively identified, but NTM have been detected in soil and water. To determine the potential of soil-derived M. abscessus as an infectious source, we explored the association, growth, and survival of M. abscessus with defined mineral particulates, including kaolin, halloysite, and silicone dioxide, and house dust as possible M. abscessus fomites. M. abscessus physically associated with particulates, and the growth of M. abscessus was enhanced in the presence of both kaolin and house dust. M. abscessus survived desiccation for 2 weeks but was not viable after 3 weeks. The rate of decline of M. abscessus viability during desiccation was reduced in the presence of house dust. The evidence for enhanced growth and survival of M. abscessus during alternating growth and drying periods suggests that dissemination could occur when in wet or dry environments. These studies are important to understand environmental survival and acquisition of NTM.IMPORTANCE The environmental source of pulmonary Mycobacterium abscessus infections is not known. Fomites are nonliving carriers of infectious agents and may contribute to acquisition of M. abscessus This study provides evidence that M. abscessus growth is enhanced in the presence of particulates, using kaolin, an abundant natural clay mineral, and house dust as experimental fomites. Moreover, M. abscessus survived desiccation for up to 2 weeks in the presence of house dust, kaolin, and several chemically defined mineral particulates; mycobacterial viability during extended periods of dessication was enhanced by the presence of house dust. The growth characteristics of M. abscessus with particulates suggest that a fomite mechanism of transmission may contribute to M. abscessus acquisition, which may lead to strategies to better control infections by M. abscessus and related organisms.

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00562-17

Cite this paper

@article{Malcolm2017MycobacteriumAD, title={Mycobacterium abscessus Displays Fitness for Fomite Transmission.}, author={Kenneth C. Malcolm and Silvia M. Caceres and Jennifer R. Honda and Rebecca M. Davidson and L. Elaine Epperson and Michael J Strong and Edward D . Chan and Jerry A. Nick}, journal={Applied and environmental microbiology}, year={2017}, volume={83 19} }