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Rising Concern: Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Pose Growing Health Threat in the US

Visual Representation for Nontuberculous Mycobacteria

United States: The general public of the United States have currently dealing with health problem which are caused after inhaling nontuberculous mycobacteria. Various experts and health studies suggest that the bacteria has been becoming a common problem in most of people.

Accordingly, bacteria are commonly found in almost every element of the earth, from soil to dust to water systems. It is to be noted that the bacteria can be dangerous for some and can cause no harm to many.

The most common infection caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) is lung infection, which results in symptoms which are common as tuberculosis. Along with this, an infected person can also experience chronic and bloody cough which results in signs and symptoms similar to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis, as per Medicalexpress.

Another threat or danger associated with the bacteria is lack in treatment, driven by lack in proper diagnosis. According to the local health authorities, the major reason behind the lack is slow growth of bacteria inside the human body.

Studies based on the infection!

Recently, a study was conducted by the experts of Tulane University. In the study, the researchers developed a CRISPR-based platform that can assist in the diagnosis of NTM infections through blood tests. The experts suggested that the best possible results can be yielded within two hours – through this diagnosis technique.

The preliminary conclusion of the study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. As per the findings, the blood test conducted using the technique showed around 93 percent of the accurate results. The experts highlighted that rapid and accurate diagnosis of NTM infections was never as important as it is now because of the increase in cases. Accordingly, the infection has been spreading because of the rising temperature, which is caused by global climate change.

While explaining the same, assistant professor of molecular biology at Tulane University School of Medicine – Bo Ning, who also worked as a corresponding author, stated, “NTM infection is highly underestimated, and due to the slow diagnosis of it, patients with NTM infection are not effectively treated.”

According to the reports by Medicalexpress, the expert continued saying, “Importantly, our blood test can analyze NTM DNA fragments in the bloodstream, thereby inferring a drug response, which is crucial for rapidly determining treatment plans, capabilities traditional diagnostic approaches cannot achieve.”

It was further explained that the blood test has been specially developed in a manner which will assist in detecting mycobacteria avium complex (MAC) – a most common type of NTM infection.

How do experts share the procedure of the NTM test?

The fragments of NTM DNA are detected in the bloodstream while conducting the testing to identify the infection. The current methods for diagnosing infections depend on analyzing cultures of slow-growing bacteria over extended periods, often causing delays in both diagnosis and treatment. Complicating matters further, there are over 190 species of NTM, making it challenging to accurately identify infections.

While elaborating on this, Bo Ning mentioned, “Currently, correct diagnosis and treatment can last more than six months. Not only can our blood test provide same-day results, but this test can be quickly performed in any clinic where blood can be drawn and does not require specialized training or equipment needed to analyze bacteria cultures.”

While predicting the future of the disease in the United States, the health expert highlighted that there are high chances that the nation can witness increase in the number of cases of NTM infections. He was quoted saying, “The goal is to reduce barriers to testing and diagnosis and prepare for a potential surge of NTM infections.”

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