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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Apr;79(8):2648-56. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03543-12. Epub 2013 Feb 8.

Environmental distribution and seasonal prevalence of Mycobacterium ulcerans in Southern Louisiana.

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1
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology.

Abstract

Mycobacterium ulcerans is an emerging environmental pathogen that causes debilitating, ulcerative disease in humans and other vertebrates. The majority of human cases occur in tropical and temperate regions of Africa and Australia, and outbreaks of piscine mycobacteriosis caused by M. ulcerans have been reported in disparate geographic locations spanning the globe. While exposure to a natural body of water is the most common risk factor for human infection, the environmental distribution of M. ulcerans in aquatic habitats has not been extensively studied. Although no human cases have been reported in the United States, a strain of M. ulcerans has been identified as the cause of a piscine mycobacteriosis in Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) within the Chesapeake Bay. Infected fish exhibit bright red ventral and lateral dermal lesions. We observed a possible outbreak causing similar lesions on red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in wetlands of southern Louisiana and detected M. ulcerans-specific genetic markers in lesion samples from these fish. Based on these findings, we studied the geographic and seasonal prevalence of these markers across southern Louisiana. M. ulcerans was detected in each of the nine areas sampled across the state. M. ulcerans prevalence was significantly lower in the fall samples, and the low prevalence coincided with decreased nutrient levels and an increase in water temperature. To our knowledge, this is the first study of M. ulcerans biomarkers in the southern United States.

PMID:
23396345
PMCID:
PMC3623173
DOI:
10.1128/AEM.03543-12
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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