Detection of wide genetic diversity and several novel strains among non-avium nontuberculous mycobacteria isolated from farmed and wild animals in Hungary

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Besides Mycobacterium avium numerous nontuberculous Mycobacterium (NTM) species exist, which pose constant health risk to both humans and animals. The aim of our study was to identify non-avium NTM isolates from veterinary origin in Hungary, and to detect the occurrence of rifampicin resistance among them.

Methods and Results

Two hundred and twenty-five strains isolated between 2006 and 2013 from domestic and wild animals and veterinary important samples were identified on the basis of partial DNA sequences of different structural or coding genes, besides commercial kits and multiplex PCR. From 14 different sources, 28 NTM strains and 8 hitherto unidentified strain types were detected. Mycobacterium nonchromogenicum was the most frequently occurring strain (25·78%). Besides, new hosts and mycobacteria-related pathological symptoms were detected. Noticeable rifampicin resistance (42·76%) was found among 159 strains from six different host species. Furthermore, we described the problematics of strain-misidentifications using commercial kits.


Our study identified the most common non-avium NTM strains in Hungary, and provided account of their occurrence, host range, and pathogenicity. The detected high rifampicin resistance among the strains isolated mainly from fallow and red deer clearly shows that more attention should be paid to the examination of wild animals especially to those ones which may have contact or shared territory with farmed animals.

Significance and Impact of the Study

In domestic animal husbandry the maintenance of tuberculosis free status is of primary importance. As immunological cross-reactions due to NTM hamper the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis, the precise identification of NTM strains would be essential in the veterinary diagnostics, especially for potentially zoonotic strains. This is the first study investigating the strain diversity of non-avium NTM in Hungary.

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