Send to

Choose Destination
N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 13;319(15):978-82.

Mycobacterium chelonae causing otitis media in an ear-nose-and-throat practice.

Author information

Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.


Seventeen cases of otitis media caused by Mycobacterium chelonae were detected among patients seen at a single ear-nose-and-throat (ENT) office (Office A) in Louisiana between May 5 and September 15, 1987. All the patients had a tympanotomy tube or tubes in place or had one or more tympanic-membrane perforations, with chronic otorrhea that was unresponsive to standard therapy with antimicrobial agents. Middle-ear exploration in six patients revealed abundant granulation tissue; multiple granulomas and acid-fast bacilli were demonstrated on a section of tissue from one patient with a nonhealing mastoidectomy incision. Thirteen of the 14 ear isolates obtained from patients seen in Office A had the same unusual pattern of high-level resistance to aminoglycosides. M. chelonae and other nontuberculous mycobacteria were recovered from several sources of water in Office A, as well as in another ENT office (Office B) in a neighboring city that was visited by the index patient. Only one additional case was detected in Office B during the same period. Otologic instruments in Office A were cleaned in an ultrasonic bath with tap water and a liquid detergent; the contents of the bath were changed only once weekly. Instruments in Office B were placed in boiling water between patient examinations. This outbreak establishes M. chelonae as an agent of otitis media and underscores the need for high-level disinfection or sterilization of ENT instruments between examinations to prevent the transmission of this organism to patients in the office setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center