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Mycobacterium avium complex in water, food, and soil samples collected from the environment of HIV-infected individuals.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco General Hospital, USA.


As part of an epidemiologic study of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection in San Francisco, water, food and soil samples were collected from the home environment of 290 persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and cultured for mycobacteria. Isolates recovered from the environment were compared with isolates cultured from study patients. Although mycobacteria were recovered from numerous environmental samples, isolates reactive with MAC-specific DNA probes were recovered from only four of 528 (0.76%) water samples and one of 397 (0.25%) food samples. The species M. avium was recovered from one water (0.19%) and one food sample. In contrast, MAC was recovered from 55% and M. avium from 27% of soil samples taken from potted plants in patients' home. Speciation of 76 MAC isolates from study patients showed all isolates belonged to the species M. avium. With use of serotype and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis analysis, some of the soil isolates were found to be similar to isolates recovered from study patients. The results of this study suggest that soil, rather than water, may be a significant reservoir of organisms causing MAC infection in San Francisco.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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