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Detection of acid-fast bacilli in clinical specimens
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a leading infectious disease cause of death worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a rise in the incidence of tuberculosis associated with AIDS, foreign-born cases, and increased transmission in high-risk populations. There has also been a rise in the number of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains that exhibit resistance to 1 or more antituberculosis drugs. The public health implications of these facts are considerable. Because Mycobacterium tuberculosis is readily spread by airborne particles, rapid diagnosis and isolation of infected persons is important. Nontuberculous mycobacteria infections also cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans, particularly in immunocompromised persons. Detection of acid-fast bacilli in sputum specimens allows rapid identification of individuals who are likely to be infected with mycobacteria while definitive diagnosis and treatment are pursued.
Negative (reported as positive or negative)
Patients whose sputum specimens are identified as acid-fast positive should be considered potentially infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, pending definitive diagnosis by molecular methods or mycobacterial culture.
MTBRP / Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex, Molecular Detection, PCR is the preferred test for rapid, direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from clinical specimens.
Artifacts may exhibit nonspecific fluorescence and be confused with organisms.
1. American Thoracic Society/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Infectious Diseases Society of America: Controlling Tuberculosis in the United States. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 2005;172:1169-1227
2. American Thoracic Society: An Official ATS/IDSA Statement: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Diseases. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 2007;175:367-416