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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Vertical Transmission, November 2004

Where to start; so much has happened over such a short period of time. Perhaps I should commence by sincerely thanking the members of the society for the great honour that been bestowed upon me by my election as President for the next 2 years. It is a great privilege and a major responsibility to be asked to serve my own scientific society in this manner. I can only promise to work to the best of my ability to serve the both ASM membership and the microbiology profession.

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TB and not TB: Mycobacteriology in Australia in the 21st century

In the past, non-mycobacteriologists may well have viewed the specialty as a backwater where the science and scientists moved slowly, and the organisms grew even more slowly! Little changed over nearly a century as mycobacteriologists employed the classic microscopy and culture techniques that had been developed and refined over the 2 decades following Koch?s description of the tubercle bacillus in 1884. However, mycobacteriology has undergone a renaissance in the last decade following a resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States, the...

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Skin and soft tissue infections due to non-tuberculous mycobacteria

The non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are composed of species other than Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (M. tuberculosis, M. bovis including BCG, M. microti, M. africanum) and M. leprae. NTM are a diverse and growing group of more than 100 species that occupy a wide variety of environmental niches throughout the world, being particularly common in soil and water. For several species, survival in biofilms facilitates their presence in water distribution systems.

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Mycobacterium bovis: an extraordinary pathogen

Mycobacterium bovis, originally considered to be the precursor of human tuberculosis by ?crossing over? when man first began domesticating animals, is now considered at the opposite end of the evolutionary spectrum. M. bovis belongs in the M. tuberculosis complex, a group of organisms that has, until relatively recently, contained the established pathogens M. tuberculosis, M. africanum, M. bovis (and M. bovis BCG) and M. microti. M. tuberculosis and M. africanum primarily affect humans and M. microti is the main pathogen of voles. M. bovis is t...

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The ?new? mycobacteria

There are more than 90 identified species of the genus Mycobacterium, of which over 50 are implicated in human disease. Two species, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis) and Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy), are usually pathogens only of humans. Mycobacteria are extremely diverse and inhabit various similarly diverse ecological niches. The vast majority are environmental organisms, found naturally in waterways, soil and other environments. Mycobacterium spp. are encountered with increasing frequency as opportunistic pathogens of humans, due ...

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Mycobacterium ulcerans: an unwelcome visitor

Mycobacterium ulcerans, the causative agent of Bairnsdale ulcer, made prime-time television in Victoria this July. Universally referred to in the media as the ?flesh-eating bug?, M. ulcerans is creating considerable concern for local health authorities, residents and visitors to affected areas. A new cluster of at least 14 cases has been linked to the small coastal town of Point Lonsdale this winter.

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Experience with Mycobacterium haemophilum in Australia, 1977-2003

Mycobacterium haemophilum is a fastidious microorganism that requires X-factor (haemoglobin or haemin) or ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) and only grows around 30-32°C. Since it was first described in 1978 there have been 104 isolations in Australia up to 2003 and the Australian Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory Network (AMRLN) have collected strains and associated epidemiological information. This review looks at this information and laboratory isolation media and practices used to recover M. haemophilum in Australia. Some important recommendat...

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Diagnosis of mycobacteria in the routine diagnostic laboratory

Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) have become increasingly important over the last 20 years. These mycobacteria are classified as ?rapid growers? (growth in 7 days or less) or slow growers (growth of isolated colonies in more than 7 days). The rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) are the group of mycobacteria which are being recognised in cultures performed in routine diagnostic microbiology laboratories. The increase in notification rate of RGM is partially due to a heightened alertness for mycobacteria by clinicians and laboratory scientists a...

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The rational use of nucleic acid amplification testing for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex

On the basis of clinical significance, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most important member of the genus Mycobacterium. It is closely related genetically to Mycobacterium bovis, M. africanum, Mycobacterium microti, Mycobacterium bovis BCG (the bacillus of Calmette-Guerin) and the recently described Mycobacterium tuberculosis subspecies Canetti. Together they are termed the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC).

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Susceptibility testing of non-tuberculous mycobacteria

There is little consensus about treatment for the diseases caused by the common non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). Guidelines are based largely on retrospective, non-controlled studies. Where susceptibility testing data is available, in vitro testing often correlates poorly or not at all with the clinical response to treatment. Performing non validated susceptibility testing is likely to confuse treatment rather than aid it. In the clinical situation, the only valid indication for performance of susceptibility testing is if the test will produ...

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A unique strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and a cautionary tale for users of molecular techniques

Molecular techniques are now widely applied in Australia and elsewhere for the direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA in clinical specimens and culturally enhanced material. All nucleic acid testing methods have the potential to give false negative results due to mutations that may arise at primer or probe binding sites. We describe one such strain of M. tuberculosis that was encountered in 1995 and that has not been encountered in Australia since.

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MIRU: the national tuberculosis genotyping strategy in Australia

Tuberculosis remains a low prevalence disease in Australia, with approximately 800 new bacteriologically confirmed cases detected each year. In Australia, this low incidence rate corresponds to less than five cases per 100,000 population. The highest incidence occurs in migrants from high prevalence countries followed by indigenous Australian-born people. Among non-indigenous Australians, tuberculosis most often occurs among elderly males, largely due to re-activation of latent tuberculosis.

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Mycobacterium paratuberculosis: pain in the gut and challenge for science

Mycobacterium paratuberculosis causes Johne?s disease in sheep, cattle, goats and other ruminants worldwide. It is a fatal, untreatable, chronic, granulomatous infection of the intestine. According to some researchers, the organism may be responsible for Crohn?s disease in man and, although not proven, this has led to a higher public profile for the disease. For this reason and because of animal welfare concerns and economic loss, animal health authorities in most developed countries aim to reduce the prevalence of infection.

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Leproid granulomas: a unique mycobacterial infection of dogs

In 1973, a Rhodesian veterinarian, Richard Smith, documented a mycobacterial skin infection in a Doberman and a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog that was characterised by variably sized subcutaneous nodules. It was thought at first that these dogs may have had tuberculosis and, because of public health considerations, they were euthanased and subjected to postmortem examination. There was no internal organ involvement at necropsy and, although acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were abundant in the lesions, culture was negative for the tubercle bacillus. Similar c...

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ASM Affairs, November 2004

BD student awards 2004; Standing Committee on Clinical Microbiology; Biological weapons convention: Implementation and responsibilities in the lab; Conference Report ASM 2004, Sydney

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