Isolation of rapidly growing nontuberculous mycobacteria in wounds following combat-related injury

Lauren C. Fiske, Diane C. Homeyer, Michael Zapor, Joshua Hartzell, Tyler Warkentien, Amy C. Weintrob, Anuradha Ganesan, Timothy Burgess, Erik Snesrud, Paige Waterman, Lindsey Nielsen, Roseanne A. Ressner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Rapidly growing nontuberculous mycobacteria (RGNTM) have yet to be described in combat-related injuries. This study investigates the epidemiology, clinical findings, treatment, and outcomes of RGNTM infections among combat casualties wounded in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012. Methods: Patients with RGNTM were identified from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry through the Trauma Infectious Disease Outcomes Study. Trauma history, surgical management, and clinical data were collected. Six isolates from patients requiring antimycobacterial therapy were sequenced. Results: Seventeen cases were identified. Six cases, predominantly associated with Mycobacterium abscessus, required aggressive debridement and a median of 180 days of multidrug antimycobacterial therapy that included clofazimine. M. abscessus isolates expressed the erythromycin resistance methylase (erm(41)) gene for inducible macrolide resistance, yet there were no clinical treatment failures when macrolides were utilized in combination therapy. No clonal similarity between M. abscessus isolates was found. Eleven cases had positive wound cultures, but did not require antimycobacterial therapy. The median duration of time of injury to first detection of a RGNTM was 57 days. Conclusions: This represents the first report of RGNTM infections in war-wounded patients. RGNTM should be recognized as potential pathogens in grossly infected combat wounds. Surgical debridement and multidrug antimycobacterial therapy, when clinically indicated, was associated with satisfactory clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-536
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


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