Mycobacteria are small, slow-growing, aerobic bacilli. They are distinguished by a complex, lipid-rich cell envelope responsible for their characterization as acid-fast (ie, resistant to decolorization by acid after staining with carbolfuchsin) and their relative resistance to Gram stain. The most common mycobacterial infection is tuberculosis; others include leprosy and various diseases caused by Mycobacterium avium complex.
Last full review/revision February 2014 by Dylan Tierney, MD; Edward A. Nardell, MD
Content last modified March 2014