An outbreak of Mycobacterium jacuzzii infection following insertion of breast implants

G. Rahav, S. Pitlik, Z. Amitai, A. Lavy, M. Blech, N. Keller, G. Smollan, M. Lewis, A. Zlotkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background. Surgical wound infections caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria developed in 15 women after insertion of breast implants from August to November 2003 at a single medical center. Methods. A case-control study was conducted that included the identified patients, as well as women who underwent breast operations at the same center who did not develop infections. The study was accompanied by an extensive environmental investigation. Isolates were identified by standard bacteriological methods and by comparison of their 16S rRNA, HSP65, RPOB, SODA, and RECA gene sequences. Isolates were compared by random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis and by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Results. The risk factors for infection included surgery performed by 1 specific surgeon (odds ratio, 21.3; 95% confidence interval, 3.64-125.6). Identical strains of mycobacteria were isolated from the infected wounds of the patients; from the eyebrows, hair, face, nose, ears, and groin of this particular surgeon; and from this surgeon's outdoor whirlpool. The isolates exhibited a biochemical profile overlapping that of Mycobacterium wolinskyi, but their sequences of 16S rRNA and HSP65, RPOB, SODA, and RECA genes differed. We propose the name "Mycobacterium jacuzzii" for this new species. DNA fingerprints of cultured isolates from the surgical wounds, areas of the surgeon's body that grow hair, and the surgeon's whirlpool were identical. When the surgeon discontinued his use of the whirlpool and began cleaning the hairy areas of his body with a shampoo containing triclosan, the outbreak ended. Conclusions. This outbreak brings to light the possibility of the colonization of human skin and human-to-human transmission of environmental mycobacteria during surgery that involves implant insertion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-830
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


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