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Mycobacteremia occurs most often in immunocompromised hosts. The majority of disseminated mycobacterial infections are due to Mycobacterium avium complex but bacteremia can also be caused by other mycobacterial species including, but not limited to, Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Mycobacterium kansasii, Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium chelonae, Mycobacterium scrofulaceum, Mycobacterium szulgai, and Mycobacterium xenopi.(1)
Mycobacterial blood cultures may be indicated for patients presenting with signs and symptoms of sepsis, especially fever of unknown origin.
A positive result may support the diagnosis of mycobacteremia.
Results must be interpreted in conjunction with the patient's history and clinical picture because false-positive results may occur due to specimen contamination.
A negative result does not rule-out mycobacteremia. The organism may be present at quantities below the limit of detection or may be transiently present.
If Mycobacterium genavense is suspected, indicate on request form or contact laboratory. Mycobactin J (an iron supplement) will then be added to the culture to support growth.
If positive, mycobacteria is identified.
A final negative report will be issued after 60 days of incubation.
1. Pfyffer GE: Mycobacterium: General characteristics, laboratory detection, and staining procedures. In Manual of Clinical Microbiology. Ninth edition. Edited by PR Murray, EJ Baron, JH Jorgensen, et al. ASM Press, Washington DC, 2007, pp 543-572
2. Reimer LG: Laboratory detection of mycobacteremia. Clin Lab Med 1994;14:99-105