Thorax 50:188-190 doi:10.1136/thx.50.2.188
  • Research Article

Non-tuberculous pulmonary infections in Scotland: a cluster in Lothian?

  1. F G Böllert,
  2. B Watt,
  3. A P Greening,
  4. G K Crompton
  1. Respiratory Medicine Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.


      BACKGROUND--A retrospective study was carried out to confirm the clinical impression that, in Lothian, non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections are as common as pulmonary tuberculosis. METHODS--All pulmonary isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis/bovis and non-tuberculous mycobacteria in Scotland from April 1990 to March 1993, and the notes of all patients with M malmoense isolates in Lothian, were reviewed. Information on mycobacterial culture procedures in Scottish laboratories was obtained as part of an audit project. RESULTS--Of all pulmonary isolates of mycobacteria in Lothian 53% (108/205) were non-tuberculous strains compared with 18% (140/800) for Scotland outside Lothian. Although comparable in population size and laboratory techniques, Lothian (108) had almost twice as many isolates of non-tuberculous mycobacteria as Glasgow (56), but the proportions of M malmoense and M avium intracellulare complex were similar in both areas. Of 41 patients with M malmoense isolates in Lothian 30 (75%) had clinically significant lung disease; only one was HIV positive. CONCLUSIONS--Non-tuberculous mycobacteria pose an increasing clinical problem in Scotland as a cause of pulmonary disease. There is a cluster of cases with M malmoense infection in Lothian which cannot be attributed to the high local prevalence of HIV.