General Overview of Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Opportunistic Pathogens: Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium abscessus
Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are emerging human pathogens, causing a wide range of clinical diseases affecting individuals who are immunocompromised and who have underlying health conditions. NTM are ubiquitous in the environment, with certain species causing opportunistic infection in humans, including Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium abscessus. The incidence and prevalence of NTM infections are rising globally, especially in developed countries with declining incidence rates of M. tuberculosis infection. Mycobacterium avium, a slow-growing mycobacterium, is associated with Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infections that can cause chronic pulmonary disease, disseminated disease, as well as lymphadenitis. M. abscessus infections are considered one of the most antibiotic-resistant mycobacteria and are associated with pulmonary disease, especially cystic fibrosis, as well as contaminated traumatic skin wounds, postsurgical soft tissue infections, and healthcare-associated infections (HAI). Clinical manifestations of diseases depend on the interaction of the host’s immune response and the specific mycobacterial species. This review will give a general overview of the general characteristics, vulnerable populations most at risk, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention for infections caused by Mycobacterium avium, in the context of MAC, and M. abscessus.