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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Mycobacterium fortuitum

Other Names for this Disease
  • M. Fortuitum
  • Mycobacterium Fortuitum infection
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Your Question

Following surgery for a mastectomy with a subsequent implant of a tissue expander and alloderm, I developed an infection which was identified as mycrobacterium fortuitum. Could this be a hospital acquired infection and does this type of infection get reported to the department of health?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is mycobacterium fortuitum?

Mycobacterium fortuitum is a nontuberculous mycobacterium, which is a bacteria that can cause lung disease resembling tuberculosis, lymphadenitis, skin disease, or disseminated disease (infection that spreads to the bloodstream and other parts of the body). It occurs worldwide and is usually found in natural and processed water, sewage, and dirt. It is uncommon for this condition to cause lung disease. But mycobacterium fortuitum can cause local skin disease, osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone), joint infections, and eye disease after trauma. It is a rare cause of lymphadenitis. Disseminated disease usually occurs because of severe immosuppression, especially AIDS.[1]
Last updated: 4/12/2011

Is it possible to acquire mycobacterium fortuitum in a hospital?

Mycobacterium fortuitum can be a hospital-acquired disease; surgical-site infections due to this bacteria are well-documented. Surgical sites may become infected after the wound is exposed directly or indirectly to contaminated tap water. Other possible sources of mycobacterium fortuitum infection include implanted devices (such as catheters), injection site abscesses, and contaminated endoscopes.[1] A review of the literature demonstrates multiple case reports of breast implant infection with mycobacterium fortuitum.

You can find relevant articles on mycobacterium fortuitum infections after breast surgery through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. You can click here to view a search of these articles.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.
Last updated: 4/12/2011

Should mycobacterium fortuitum be reported to a local or state health department?

Mycobacterium fortuitum infections are not required to be reported; and the World Health Organization (WHO) does not track these infections.[1]
Last updated: 4/12/2011