Occurrence of pathogenic environmental mycobacteria on surfaces in health institutions


The presence of environmental mycobacteria on surfaces in two public health institutions, namely a health center and a hospital in upstate São Paulo (Brazil), was identified by polymerase chain reaction-restriction enzyme analysis (PRA). The possible sources of contamination by these microorganisms were evaluated, contributing to epidemiology studies. Methods: From June 2005 to June 2006, a total of 632 samples were collected from exposed surfaces, such as washbasins, drinking fountains, and other accessible sites, and the mycobacteria present in the samples were isolated and cultured. Results: Sixty-five mycobacteria were isolated from the 632 samples; 47 of which were detected in samples from the health center and 18 in samples collected from the hospital. The isolates were identified by DNA restriction patterns obtained by PRA, and potentially pathogenic species were found to be prevalent among the identified mycobacteria. This study shows that the PRA technique can be employed as a fast and easy method for identification of nontuberculous mycobacteria in public areas. Conclusions: The isolation of environmental mycobacteria from the two health institutions demonstrates that these surfaces are reservoirs of potentially pathogenic mycobacteria and indicates the need for continuous maintenance and monitoring. These data will add to the study of the epidemiology of these microorganisms.



Environmental mycobacteria, Health center, PCR, PRA

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Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine, v. 2010, n. 1, p. 53-58, 2010.