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Mycobacterium chelonae

Mycobacterium chelonae is a fast-growing, rod-shaped bacterium that belongs to the genus Mycobacterium. The Gram-positive pathogen belongs to the non‐tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) group.

Mycobacterium chelonae causes the following diseases:

  • Catheter-associated infections and wound infections

  • Rare lung infections

Invasive infections such as bacteremia, osteomyelitis (bone marrow inflammation), or intra-abdominal abscesses often occur among immunocompromised patients.

Mycobacterium chelonae is ubiquitous. The pathogen can be found in water and soil, among other places, and grows optimally at temperature of 30-32°C.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Not relevant

  • Pulmonology: Very high

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Not relevant

  • Urology: Very high

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • High concern organism

Transmission route

Mycobacterium chelonae is one of the pathogens causing nosocomial infections and is often transmitted during surgery, injections or through catheters.

In healthcare facilities the bacterium can also be spread and transmitted through water. To prevent a recontamination of the endoscope, the water used for final rinsing must be microbiologically controlled.

Resistance to antibiotics

Mycobacterium chelonae is resistant to numerous antibiotics. Resistance to macrolides and to substances in the tetracycline and cephalosporins groups has already been described.

Further readings

  1. Akram SM Mycobacterium Chelonae, 2021 Mar 30. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 28613557.

  2. Gries O, Ly T: Infektologie – Kompendium humanpathogener Infektionskrankheiten und Erreger, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019.

  3. Kovaleva J et al. Transmission of Infection by Flexible Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Bronchoscopy, Clin Microbiol Rev. 2013 Apr;26(2):231-54.