Characterization of Non-Tuberculous Mycobacterium from Humans and Water in an Agro pastoral area in Zambia

Ngula Monde, Musso Munyeme, Adrian Muwonge, John Muma, Sydney Malama

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BACKGROUND: The non-tuberculous mycobacteria include those mycobacterium species that are not members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, the causative agent of pulmonary tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae. In Zambia, Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria are gaining recognition as pathogens of public health significance. However, there is scanty information on the isolation and speciation of these organisms for better patient management, consequently reducing the burden of these infections. Given the above information, the thrust of this study was to isolate and characterize NTM from humans and water in Namwala district of Zambia.

METHOD: This was a cross-sectional study were 153 individuals with suspected TB were sampled from four health facilities in Namwala district, sputum samples were also collected. Additionally, 149 water samples were collected from different water drinking sources such as Tap water, Borehole water, rivers, wells and streams. Standard TB culture methods were employed to isolate Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria and later 16S-23S internal transcribed spacer region Sequencing was employed to characterize NTM.

RESULTS: Seven (7, 4.6%) NTM species were identified from humans with M. arupense (3, 42.9%) being the most common organism, while twenty three (23, 15.4%) NTM were identified from water with the common species being Mycobacterium gordonae (5, 21.7%). Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium fortuitum were both identified from human and water samples.

CONCLUSION: This study has shown the isolation of NTM species from humans and water. The isolation of NTM from drinking water sources could signify a public health risk to humans
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2018


  • Namwala
  • NTM
  • Water
  • Mycobacteria
  • Zambia

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