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Keywords:

  • Indolent infection;
  • Mycobacterium abscessus;
  • non-tuberculous mycobacterium;
  • sensitivity test;
  • treatment regimen

Abstract

A patient with Mycobacterium abscessus lung disease was mistaken to have pulmonary tuberculosis with airway colonization by the non-tuberculous mycobacterium. Appropriate antibiotics were only given when the patient's signs and symptoms worsened while on anti-tuberculosis therapy. Despite treatment with a combination of antibiotics showing in vitro susceptibility, the pathogen persisted in the respiratory secretions for longer than 6 months and the patient suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax 14 months into treatment. This case illustrates the chronic course of M. abscessus lung infection, the tendency for flare-ups, the inadequacy of current treatment regimens, and the necessity for prolonged patient follow-up.