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J Infect Dis. 1997 Aug;176(2):478-84.

Widespread dissemination of a drug-susceptible strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, New York, USA.


In New York City, a large proportion of new tuberculosis cases has been caused by 1 drug-susceptible strain (called C strain) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Between 1991 and 1994, among >600 tuberculosis patients consecutively identified in four large hospitals in the city, 54 with C strain, 69 with non-C cluster pattern strains, and 42 with noncluster pattern strains were studied. Susceptibility to reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) of selected isolates was compared. In a case-control analysis, 51% of patients with C strain, 28% with non-C cluster strains (P < .05), and 14% with noncluster strains (P < .01) were found to be injection drug users. C strain but not 13 other unrelated isolates were resistant to RNI. Injection drug use may provide a selective pressure for an RNI-resistant tubercle bacillus to emerge, which may give the organism a biologic advantage and explain the widespread dissemination of C strain M. tuberculosis within the city.

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