Mycobacterium Abscessus Infection- Overview, Facts, Types and Syptoms


Mycobacterium Abscessus Infection comes from group of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) that is known for its multidrug-resistance. It is under the Mycobacterium abscessus complex (MABSC) family of mycobacterium complex.

Mycobacterium Abscessus Infection is known commonly to be the cause of chronic lung infection and skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI), but can also cause infection to most human organs when one’s immune system does not have the ability to combat the bacteria/virus (immunodeficiency). Treatment for this infection is difficult due to its antimicrobial drug resistance.

Mycobacterium Abscessus Infection can be transmitted by improper/unsanitized medical procedures, with accompanying improper/unsanitized medical tools in the process. It can be also contracted through an open wound coming in contact with infected soil, water or dust. Fortunately, it has a low transmission rate from person to person.

This bacteria complex is known for growing in Löwenstein–Jensen medium (or LJ Medium) which is a growth medium used in cultivating bacteria in a solid, liquid or semi-solid state used for growing microorganisms or cells, usually used for medical research.

Commonly found in the water, soil. and dust, it can be prevented from spreading by doing the following:

  • Proper sanitation of areas wherein an infected individual has stayed or visited.
  • Washing of hands with soap and water
  • Following proper guidelines to avoid spreading
  • Not receiving proper procedures, surgeries, and injections from unlicensed professionals


It has two types, namely M. abscessus and M. chelonae respectively. Both types are gram-positive, meaning their bacteria from the Gram strain test (a test used to categorize bacteria) are positive.

ATCC19977 is the common alias for the M. abscessus strain in most medical records.


The human skin is the common area where the symptoms of this illness first appear. It will have a red color, mostly swollen and tender to the touch which is warm and painful for infected individuals. Boils and/or pus-filled vesicles may also appear on the infected skin. A person may also experience the following:


The only known diagnosis for this illness currently is through either the cultivation of the bacteria (like the aforementioned LJ Medium growth medium) or through blood cultivation (same process as for bacteria, but from the extracted blood sample of an infected individual instead).


Draining collections of pus is the primary treatment for this illness. If needed, the removal of infected tissue will be done. After the removal, doctors will prescribe antibiotics to the patient for a long period of time. However, the antibiotics may not work due to the nature of the illness, therefore various testing of the bacteria against multiple antibiotics (existing and new ones) will be done to provide the correct treatment to the patients.

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