Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a rod-shaped, Gram-positive bacterium that belongs to the genus Mycobacteria. The acid-fast bacterium is the main causative agent of tuberculosis (TB) in humans.

Tuberculosis is one of the most widespread infectious diseases worldwide.

The pathogen mainly affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). However, the bacterium can also infect other parts of the body outside the lungs, such as the kidneys, spine and brain (extrapulmonary tuberculosis).

Overall, approximately 5-15% of the infected develop active tuberculosis requiring treatment. In the remaining cases, the organism manages to fight and contain the pathogen (latent tuberculous infection, LTBI). People with LTBI do not show symptoms and are not infectious.

Humans are the reservoir for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Not relevant

  • Pulmonology: Very high

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Very high

  • Urology: Not relevant

The literature has repeatedly described cases in which Mycobacterium tuberculosis was transmitted during bronchoscopy.

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • High concern organism

Transmission route

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is mainly transmitted via droplets and aerosols, e.g., when speaking, coughing, or sneezing.

Resistance to antibiotics

Worldwide, bacteria are showing increasing resistance to antibiotics. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) includes resistance to at least two of the most effective TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin. In so-called extensively resistant TB (XDR-TB), there is additional resistance to fluoroquinolone and to one of the 2nd generation injectable TB drugs (amikacin, capreomycin, and kanamycin).

Sources and further readings

  1. Facts about tuberculosis, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Accessed on 06.21.2021.

  2. Tuberculosis, World Health Organization, Accessed on 06.21.2021.

  3. Tuberculosis (TB), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 06.21.2021.