Representatives of Mycobacterium spp. are gram positive bacilli of generally 1–4 x 0.3–1 μm in size and widely distributed in the environment. Members of the genus Mycobacterium are very diverse in their biology and clinical importance. Most of them appear to be saprophytic inhabitants of surface water and the soil. However, few are important human and animal pathogens. The most important species is apparently M.tuberculosis. These mycobacteria represent infectious agents of tuberculosis, one of the global problems for medicine. Epidemiological data suggest that there are ca. 1 billion persons infected in the world with 8 million new cases and 3 million deaths annually.363 The next medically important species, M.leprae, causes leprosy, a chronic systemic disease affecting more than 10 million people in the world.50 The last group includes “atypical” Mycobacteria also termed “Mycobacteria other than M.tuberculosis”. The diseases caused by the latter group are beginning to emerge and in some human populations the incidence of these pathogens surpasses that of M.tuberculosis.
KeywordsRespiratory Burst Intracellular Parasitism Endosomal Marker Mycobacterial Cell Wall Chronic Systemic Disease
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