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Microbiology and pathogenesis of tuberculosis

INTRODUCTION

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the second most common infectious cause of death in adults worldwide (HIV is the most common). The human host serves as the natural reservoir for M. tuberculosis. The ability of the organism to efficiently establish latent infection has enabled it to spread to nearly one-third of individuals worldwide. Approximately 8 million new cases of active TB disease occur each year, leading to about 1.7 million deaths. The disease incidence is magnified by the concurrent epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. (See "Epidemiology of tuberculosis".)

The microbiology and pathogenesis of M. tuberculosis will be reviewed here. The immunology of this infection is discussed separately. (See "Immunology of tuberculosis".)

NATURAL HISTORY OF INFECTION

Inhalation of M. tuberculosis and deposition in the lungs leads to one of four possible outcomes:

Immediate clearance of the organism

Latent infection

                  

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Literature review current through: Sep 2014. | This topic last updated: Jul 3, 2013.
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