Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex Facts

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex Information

Mycobacterium TuberculosisThe mycobacterium tuberculosis complex is the common name for the group of bacteria generally considered responsible for all known contractions of the active tuberculosis disease. The bacteria is extremely resilient and is given credit as the greatest human killer of all time. There are known cases of this bacterium being found in the mummies of ancient egypt. Fortunately, it seemed that the inventions of modern science had beaten this disease as the vaccination was released in the early 1940′s. In recent years though, it has gone through a great resurgence with the higher prevalence of HIV, especially in third world countries and lower income areas of the world. With education though, many of these cases can be prevented.

There are four major types of mycobacterium: mycobacterium tuberculosis which is the most prevalent type, m. bovis, mycobacterium africanum, and mycobacterium microti. This particular type of bacteria is unique due to the thicker level of lipids on the cell wall. This thicker lipid wall made it so that the normal mycobacterium tuberculosis gram stain does not stain very well because the cells do not take in the stain past those thick lipid walls. Given that the mycobacterium tuberculosis gram stain is ineffective, the only way to actually tell if the patient has mycobacteria in their blood is to look at it under a microscope. Under a 100x zoom most of the mycobacterium cells can be visibly recognized.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is transmitted through the sputum which is also the only place that you can visibly recognize the disease. If someone with the bacteria sneezes or coughs, it releases the sputum into the air. Anyone near by can then breathe those bacteria in. Just having the bacteria in your blood is not necessarily enough to actually get sick though. Often, the bacteria will be visibly recognizable in the blood well before the victim shows any symptoms of the active tuberculosis. This latent tuberculosis infection, or LTBI, also cannot be transmitted to anyone else as the bacteria are largely maintained in granulomas which keeps them from affecting the body. If one takes the right combination of antibiotics then the disease can be prevented from going active and ever actually harming the patient. There is also a vaccination that will prevent the disease altogether, but that requires the funding and the education to allow people to get the vaccination.

Tuberculosis is a bacteria that requires an extraordinary amount of oxygen to thrive. As a result, the bacteria generally goes to the animal or human’s lungs where it multiplies. The risk factors of getting the disease are also significantly increased by anything that reduces the immune system such as alcoholism, HIV infection, and lower levels of hygiene. The parts of the world that are suffering the most from the disease generally also have problems with the issues listed above. The mycobacterium tuberculosis complex is very dangerous and needs to be taken quite seriously.

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    April 2014
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