Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease is a general term for a group of disorders characterized by exposure to specific bacterial germs known as mycobacteria. These germs are found in the water and soil and are common throughout the environment as a whole. They usually do not cause illness. The term ‘nontuberculous' is used to differentiate these disorders from the mycobacterium that cause tuberculosis (i.e. mycobacterium tuberculosis complex). These disorders also exclude Mycobacterium leprae, the mycobacterium that causes leprosy. In NTM disorders, the severity of infection and the disease course can vary greatly from one person to another. The most common symptoms include a persistent cough, fatigue, weight loss, nightsweats, and occasionally shortness of breath (dyspnea) and coughing up of blood (hemoptysis). Less often, NTM infection can cause skin or soft tissue infections or infection and inflammation of the lymph nodes (lymphadenitis). Most evidence indicates that these infections are not transmitted from one person to another, but are acquired from the environment. NTM lung disease most commonly affects people with an underlying lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and alpha-1-antitrypsin disease, but individuals with no prior history of lung disease can also be affected. Less severe infections may not require treatment. In other cases, the infection can become chronic requiring ongoing treatment.

Supporting Organizations

NTM Info & Research, Inc.

1550 Madruga Avenue
Suite 230
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Tel: 305-667-6461
Fax: 305-662-8035

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

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Last Updated:  10/8/2015
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.