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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Mycobacterium Avium
October 2001

Q. I have an 88-year-old grandmother who has always been pretty healthy. She now has this disease mycobacterium avium. Her doctor says it's similar to tuberculosis but it isn't contagious. Is this true? I'd like to visit her but I have a 2-month-old and a 2-year-old.

A. The mycobacteria are a group of organisms that include the germ causing tuberculosis and other related organisms. These infections can be dormant in healthy people and cause active disease in those with impaired immune function or other chronic health problems. Talk to the doctor to clarify your grandmother's condition as to whether you or your children have any risk of exposure.




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