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Mycobacterium fortuitum—A Human Pathogen

W. LEE HAND, M.D.; and JAY P. SANFORD, M. D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

Dr. Hand was supported in this study by research fellowship award 1-F3-A1-40,467, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Jay P. Sanford, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas (Southwestern) Medical School at Dallas, Dallas, Tex. 75235


Dallas, Texas


Ann Intern Med. 1970;73(6):971-977. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-73-6-971
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Mycobacterium fortuitum is often considered to be merely a saprophytic organism in spite of adequate evidence to the contrary. To illustrate the clinical manifestations and relative frequency of M. fortuitum infections, six recently observed cases are presented. These include five patients with cutaneous infection or abscess disease after trauma (one of whom also had suppurative adenitis) and one patient with a cauda equina abscess and meningitis. The most frequently reported M. fortuitum illnesses are cutaneous and deeper infections after trauma, pulmonary disease, and corneal infection. Infections associated with contaminated trauma, including corneal infection, are related to the widespread distribution of M. fortuitum in nature. Pulmonary infection is usually superimposed on preexisting lung disease. Local measures, including debridement, drainage, and sometimes excision, are the treatment for cutaneous infections, abscesses, and corneal infections. Although drug therapy has been ineffective, patients with pulmonary disease frequently recover spontaneously.

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