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Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)

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Published on Sep 11, 2014

Mycobacterium avium complex, also referred to as MAC, consists of two species of bacteria. They include Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium intracellulare. These species, which can be difficult to differentiate, can cause disease and are found in various environmental settings across the globe.

Several different syndromes are caused by Mycobacterium avium complex. For those who are immuno-compromised, it can often take the form of a pulmonary pathogen. Disseminated infections are usually associated with HIV infection. In HIV infected persons, manifestations may include night sweats, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea and anemia.

Less commonly, pulmonary disease in nonimmuno-compromised persons is a result of infection with MAC. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for children the most common syndrome is cervical lymphadenitis. This condition is defined by enlarged, tender and inflamed lymph nodes of the neck.

Although the mode of transmission is unclear, MAC is most likely environmentally acquired. According to various research, MAC has been found in fresh water, salt water, hot water systems, soils, dusts, aerosols, foods, plants and various types of animals (fish, birds, farm animals).

The CDC reports that the incidence of MAC in people has been decreasing due to changes in treatment for HIV-infected patients; however, antimicrobial resistance may be increasing.

These are just a few things to know about Mycobacterium avium complex. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, environmental, health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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