What is Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) Disease?

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Abstract

NTM are bacteria that are normally present in the environment. Inhalation of these bacteria may cause disease in both healthy patients and those with compromised immune systems. NTM disease most often affects the lungs in adults, but it may also affect any body site. Person-to-person transmission of NTM disease is very uncommon, in contrast to transmission of tuberculosis (Mycobacteria tuberculosis), which is common. The number of people with NTM disease is increasing worldwide. (For more information on tuberculosis, see ATS Patient information series at www.thoracic.org/patients)

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