Environment
Fact-checked

At AllThingsNature, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is Mycobacterium Fortuitum?

Mycobacterium fortuitum is a fast-growing bacterium that can cause infections in humans, often following surgery or trauma. It's part of a group known as nontuberculous mycobacteria, found in soil and water. Treatment can be complex, requiring specific antibiotics. Understanding its impact on health is crucial. How might this organism affect you, and what precautions can you take? Continue reading to find out.
B. Koch
B. Koch

Mycobacterium fortuitum is a nontuberculous mycobacterium, or NTM, that is found in many different environments around the world and is even found in most tap water. Although it is harmless to most healthy people, exposure does pose a threat of bacterial infection in immune-compromised individuals, or when the mycobacterium is found in abundance. Mycobacterium fortuitum has been known to infest warm water reservoirs, such as foot spas and has caused infections in users of pedicure foot spas.

Nontuberculous mycobacteria are bacteria that may cause disease but do not cause tuberculosis. They are typically rod-shaped and are known for rapid growth, especially in warm environments between 30-37 degrees Celsius (86-98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Mycobacterium fortuitum is found worldwide in water, soil and air.

Most tap water contains mycobacterium fortuitum.
Most tap water contains mycobacterium fortuitum.

Although this bacteria is widespread, it is unusual for it to cause bacterial infection in humans, though it may occur. Individuals with compromised immune systems, if infected, may suffer from a number of complications, including skin infections, especially at surgical sites, as well as bone and joint disease. Lung infections are also possible, yet much less frequent. Infection does not spread from person to person but through direct contact with the bacteria from contaminated substances such as tap water.

A pedicure infection may require a trip to the podiatrist.
A pedicure infection may require a trip to the podiatrist.

Most frequently, mycobacterium fortuitum infections occur in hospital environments, and weak, immune-compromised patients are those most likely to suffer from this type of infection. Patients may develop a skin infection, especially at a surgical incision site. This area may become contaminated through exposure to tap water since even water that seems clean may contain mycobacterium fortuitum, although low levels are typically harmless to healthy individuals.

Mycobacterium fortuitum can grow in hot tubs that have not been properly maintained.
Mycobacterium fortuitum can grow in hot tubs that have not been properly maintained.

Although infections in non-immune compromised individuals are unusual, they do occur, especially when an individuals is exposed to high concentrations of the bacteria. Mycobacterium fortuitum has been known to cause pedicure infections due to infestations of the bacteria in whirlpool footbaths and foot spas. Since mycobacterium fortuitum thrives in warm environments, foot spas are at high risk of contamination if not carefully sanitized. When exposed to contaminated footbaths, some individuals develop lesions and boils on the lower legs that can usually be remedied with antibiotics.

Mycobacterium fortuitum infections may occur at a surgical incision site.
Mycobacterium fortuitum infections may occur at a surgical incision site.

Mycobacterium fortuitum exposure has also been known to come from infested hot tubs. Hot tubs that are not properly maintained to keep a regular pH and that are not kept clean become a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only may individuals suffer from lesions and boils, they may also suffer from lung disease if the bacteria is inhaled.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Most tap water contains mycobacterium fortuitum.
      By: AA+W
      Most tap water contains mycobacterium fortuitum.
    • A pedicure infection may require a trip to the podiatrist.
      By: Andrea Arnold
      A pedicure infection may require a trip to the podiatrist.
    • Mycobacterium fortuitum can grow in hot tubs that have not been properly maintained.
      By: emf_images
      Mycobacterium fortuitum can grow in hot tubs that have not been properly maintained.
    • Mycobacterium fortuitum infections may occur at a surgical incision site.
      By: dacasdo
      Mycobacterium fortuitum infections may occur at a surgical incision site.
    • Immunocompromised patients must take precautions to avoid opportunistic infections, including mycobacterium fortuitum.
      By: DjiggiBodgi.com
      Immunocompromised patients must take precautions to avoid opportunistic infections, including mycobacterium fortuitum.
    • Mycobacterium fortuitum infections often occur in hospitals with patients who are already weak immune-compromised.
      By: Creativa
      Mycobacterium fortuitum infections often occur in hospitals with patients who are already weak immune-compromised.