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Nontuberculous Mycobacteria

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Treatment

The goals with treatment are to resolve the nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection in the affected person and prevent further damage to tissues and organs. If there is evidence of widespread infection due to a common exposure, the medical community investigates the outbreak to find and eliminate the source of the infection(s). With M. leprae, treatment is also necessary to prevent the spread of the infection.

The treatment of NTM infections usually involves more than one antibiotic for a prolonged period of time. The length of treatment depends on the results of the AFB smears and cultures used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. A few of the NTM infections, such as those caused by M. ulcerans, are best treated through surgical debridement of the skin ulcers (removal of damaged infected skin) to prevent further spread of the infection. In cases where the infection is localized, such as an infected lymph node, the infected tissue may be surgically removed.

Although symptoms often resolve after several weeks, it is crucial that those affected continue to take their drugs for the time period recommended by their doctor. There are often a large number of mycobacteria to kill and it may take several months or longer to make sure that all of them have been eradicated. People with NTM infections should follow their doctor's recommendations for the best treatment for their specific condition.

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