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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 173-175

Susceptibility of the Mycobacterium abscessus complex to drying: Implications for nebulizer hygiene in patients with cystic fibrosis


Department of Bacteriology, Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast; School of Biomedical Sciences, Ulster University, Coleraine; School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, The Wellcome.Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queenfs University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Correspondence Address:
John Edmund Moore
Department of Bacteriology, Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Belfast City Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7AD
Northern Ireland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_62_20

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Background: Nebulizer hygiene and care is important in cystic fibrosis (CF) to minimize device contamination from bacteria, including nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs). Most nebulizer manufacturers recommend nebulizer drying, however there is little evidence to understand how nebulizer drying affects NTM survival. Methods: Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. massiliense (n = 2), M. abscessus subsp. bolletii (n = 2), and M. abscessus subsp. abscessus (n = 2) were evaluated for their ability to survive simulated drying conditions associated with routine nebulizer care. Bacterial inocula (circa. 107 colony-forming units) were added to plastic and allowed to dry to completeness for 24 h, employing passive and active drying. Results: NTM isolates of all subspecies could be recovered from all passive and active drying experiments, both in diluent and in sterile sputum, following drying (24 h). There was no combination of drying or physiology that supported NTM cell death, and there was no difference in observed survival with the three species of M. abscessus examined. Conclusion: This study indicates that drying, either passively or actively, for 24 h at room temperature, is unable to eradicate all M. abscessus organisms from dry plastic surfaces, even in the presence of residual sputum contamination. Whilst drying may be advantageous for nebulizer performance, it should not be regarded as an absolute control for the elimination of NTM organisms. With nebulizer hygiene, NTM organisms would be able to survive on a nebulizer following drying for 24 h, which has not undergone any formal disinfection protocol. Therefore, for NTM eradication from washed nebulizers, CF patients should therefore seek an effective alternative control to drying for NTM eradication, i.e., heat disinfection in baby bottle disinfectors. CF patients and health-care professionals should not rely solely on nebulizer drying to achieve NTM eradication.


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