According to a large study of people hospitalized with nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), this lung disease is on the rise in the United States.

Epidemiologists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases led research that analyzed hospital discharge records of patients in 11 states whose combined total population represents 42% of the country. Study results showed pulmonary NTM increased in certain geographic areas of the United States, and while overall prevalence is higher in women, prevalence increased for both sexes in the fifth or sixth decade of life.

The research team reviewed database records spanning 1998 to 2005, and identified more than 16,475 hospitalizations associated with pulmonary NTM in people without AIDS. Before the widespread availability of combination antiretroviral therapy, pulmonary NTM disease was a common opportunistic infection among people with AIDS infection, according to an announcement about the study. In this study, the researchers limited their analysis to non-AIDS NTM disease.

Three states, Florida, New York and California, accounted for 62% of the pulmonary NTM hospitalizations in the study. The scientists then used these three states to compare trends by geographic area. They found that the annual prevalence of pulmonary NTM increased significantly among men and women in Florida (3.2% for men and 6.5% per year for women) and among women in New York (4.6%). California showed no significant changes.

According to the announcement about the study, whether these geographic differences in prevalence are a result of exposure to NTM, or increased concentrations of mycobacterium in certain environments, or both, is not clear.

The study, “Hospitalizations for nontuberculous mycobacteria-associated lung disease, United States, 1998-2005” appears in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Source: EurkeAlert