ABSTRACT: Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) is the most common occupational disease in South Korea and is an important factor in the development of infections with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). In the current study, we identified mycobacterial species that cause pulmonary infections in CWP patients, using rpoB DNA-PCR-restriction analysis. Among the 129 CWP patients studied, 35 (27.1%) were diagnosed as having mycobacterial infections. Among these, the proportion of NTM infections (21/35, 60.0%) was higher than that for MTB infections (14/35, 40.0%). Of the 21 NTM strains, the most common was M. intracellulare (6/21, 28.6%), followed by M. avium (5/21, 23.8%). We also compared the characteristics of CWP patients between the MTB and NTM infection groups. A higher proportion of CWP patients with NTM infections compared with those with MTB infections had a history of having been involved in rock work (38.1% vs 21.4%), and had complicated CWP (85.7% vs 35.7%) and a past history of TB treatment (61.9% vs 50.0%). We also discovered 3 MTB mutants that are resistant to first-line anti-TB drugs, in CWP patients. These results demonstrate the features of pulmonary mycobacterial infections with a predominance of NTM in CWP patients in South Korea.
Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 07/2009; 41(9):656-62. · 1.72 Impact Factor