Tuberculosis (TB) is a very common serious infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Less often, other kinds of mycobacteria cause diseases.
After TB, the most common mycobacterial disease is caused by a group of bacteria called Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC).
MAC infections of the lungs start slowly. Symptoms are like those of TB in the lungs and include:
Doctors test your sputum (what you cough up from deep in your lungs). If you have a MAC infection, doctors treat it with antibiotics.
People with AIDS or another health problem that weakens the immune system can get a whole body MAC infection.
Anemia (a low number of red blood cells)
If they suspect a MAC infection throughout your body, doctors will take a sample of blood or tissue to test.
Doctors treat you with 2 or 3 antibiotics at the same time.
Other types of mycobacteria cause:
Skin infections from swimming pools or aquariums—you get red bumps on your arms and legs which usually go away without treatment, though some people may need antibiotics
Buruli ulcer—swelling of the arms, legs, or face that turns into open sores—doctors treat you with antibiotics and often surgery
Infection of wounds, tattoos, and artificial body parts (such as breast implants)—doctors treat you with antibiotics and surgery