Genotypic analysis of nontuberculous mycobacteria isolated from raw milk and human cases in Wisconsin

Ali, Z. I., M. Hanafy, C. Hansen, A. M. Saudi, and A. M. Talaat, Genotypic analysis of nontuberculous mycobacteria isolated from raw milk and human cases in Wisconsin, , vol. 104, issue 1, pp. 211 - 220, 2021.


ABSTRACTNontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) compose a group of mycobacteria that do not belong to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex group. They are frequently isolated from environmental samples such as water, soil, and, to a lesser extent, food samples. Isolates of NTM represent a major health threat to humans worldwide, especially those who have asthma or are immunocompromised. Human disease is acquired from environmental exposures and through consumption of NTM-contaminated food. The most common clinical manifestation of NTM disease in human is lung disease, but lymphatic, skin and soft tissue, and disseminated disease are also important. The main objective of the current study was to profile the farm-level contamination of cow milk with NTM by examining milk filters and bulk tank milk samples. Five different NTM species were isolated in one dairy herd in Wisconsin, with confirmed 16S rRNA genotypes including Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium avium ssp. hominissuis, Mycobacterium abscessus, Mycobacterium simiae, and Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis). In tank milk samples, M. fortuitum was the predominant species in 48% of the samples, whereas M. chelonae/abscessus and M. fortuitum were the only 2 species obtained from 77 and 23% of the examined filters, respectively. Surprisingly, M. avium ssp. hominissuis, M. paratuberculosis, and M. simiae were isolated from 16.7, 10.4, and 4% of the examined milk samples, respectively, but not from milk filters. Interestingly, NTM isolates from human clinical cases in Wisconsin clustered very closely with those from milk samples. These findings suggest that the problem of NTM contamination is underestimated in dairy herds and could contribute to human infections with NTM. Overall, the study validates the use of bulk tank samples rather than milk filters to assess contamination of milk with NTM. Nontuberculous mycobacteria represent one type of pathogens that extensively contaminate raw milk at the farm level. The significance of our research is in evaluating the existence of NTM at the farm level and identifying a simple approach to examine the potential milk contamination with NTM members using tank milk or milk filters from dairy operations. In addition, we attempted to examine the potential link between NTM isolates found in the farm to those circulating in humans in Wisconsin.



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