Disseminated infection with organisms of the Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is a common complication of AIDS in the United States and other developing countries, but it is rare or absent in sub-Saharan Africa. To assess the comparative likelihood of exposure to MAC in these geographic areas, we used a standard protocol to culture 91 water samples from environmental sites and piped water supply systems in the United States, Finland, Zaire, and Kenya. MAC was isolated from all geographic areas and from 22 of 91 (24%) samples. Isolation rates were 13 of 47 (28%) for environmental samples and 9 of 44 (20%) for water supply samples. Overall isolation rates were 18 of 52 (35%) samples in the United States and Finland, whereas they were 4 of 39 (10%) samples in Zaire and Kenya (P = 0.015). MAC isolation rates from water supply systems were 8 of 25 (32%) samples in the United States and Finland and 1 of 19 (5%) samples in Zaire and Kenya (P = 0.056). MAC was isolated from hospital water in the United States and Finland but not in hospital water in Zaire and Kenya. Serovar determinations showed that six of eight isolates from the United States were serovar 4 or 8. One MAC isolate from Zaire was identified as an 'X' mycobacterium. These data suggest that exposure to MAC in water is likely in diverse areas of the world, but that the likelihood of human exposure to the organism in water may be slightly less in sub-Saharan Africa than in developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)