Mycobacterium chimaera is the newly described species belonging to Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), with morphology and growth characteristics closely related to Mycobacterium intracellulare. The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze the frequency and clinical significance of M. chimaera identification in the population of patients with previous positive respiratory cultures for M. intracellulare or MAC. 200 strains of M. intracellulare or MAC, isolated from respiratory specimens of patients hospitalized in pulmonary wards, between 2011 and 2020, were retrospectively analyzed with GenoType NTM-DR test. 88 (44%) of strains were re-classified to M. chimaera species. Analysis of clinical data in 30 patients with positive M. chimaera isolates revealed that they were diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – 27%, past tuberculosis – 20%, or interstitial lung diseases – 17%, respectively. Non-tuberculous mycobacterial lung disease (NTMLD) caused by M. chimaera has been recognized in 53% of patients, most often in those presenting with post-tuberculous lung lesions. M. chimaera was almost exclusively isolated from respiratory specimens of patients with underlying lung diseases, especially those with COPD and/or past tuberculosis. NTMLD due to M. chimaera was diagnosed predominantly in patients with past tuberculosis.

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Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Microbiology and Virology