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Emerg Infect Dis. 1999 Sep-Oct;5(5):681-7.

Abscesses due to mycobacterium abscessus linked to injection of unapproved alternative medication.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


An unlicensed injectable medicine sold as adrenal cortex extract (ACE*) and distributed in the alternative medicine community led to the largest outbreak of Mycobacterium abscessus infections reported in the United States. Records from the implicated distributor from January 1, 1995, to August 18, 1996, were used to identify purchasers; purchasers and public health alerts were used to identify patients. Purchasers and patients were interviewed, and available medical records were reviewed. Vials of ACE* were tested for mycobacterial contamination, and the product was recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ACE* had been distributed to 148 purchasers in 30 states; 87 persons with postinjection abscesses attributable to the product were identified. Patient and vial cultures contained M. abscessus identical by enzymatic and molecular typing methods. Unusual infectious agents and alternative health practices should be considered in the diagnosis of infections that do not respond to routine treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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