Mycobacterium fortuitum is a type of fast-growing bacteria (nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM)). This bacterium can be found in water, dirt, and sewage, and is not limited to a particular geographical area. Infection typically occurs when the bacteria enters wounds, sometimes after surgery. Individuals who have suppressed immune systems are at the highest risk of being infected.
Symptoms of infection with mycobacterium fortuitum vary based on the location of infection but generally include fever, night sweats, tiredness, and weight loss. This infection can also cause lung disease with a chronic cough. Other symptoms include skin disease appearing poorly healing wounds, inflammation of bones (osteomyelitis), joint infections, or eye disease. In individuals with suppressed immune systems, an infection may lead to infection of the heart tissue or valves (endocarditis).
Mycobacterium fortuitum infection can be diagnosed using a sputum sample, which involves coughing deeply to expel the sputum, or using another sample from the affected tissue. A swab from the infected area will be grown (cultured) to look for the presence of mycobacterium fortuitum. This is important in order to eliminate fungus as a possible cause of infection, especially if the individual has respiratory symptoms. A confirmed mycobacterium fortuitum infection is treated with antibiotics. If you have been diagnosed with a mycobacterium fortuitum infection, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are available for more information and resources.