What is NTM?

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What is NTM?

General information about NTM lung disease such as prevalence, risk factors, and access to an educational brochure.

General information about NTM lung disease such as prevalence, risk factors, and access to an educational brochure.

“NTM” is short for Nontuberculous Mycobacteria. You may have heard of it by another name, such as MAC (M. avium complex), atypical TB, or MOTT (mycobacterium other than tuberculosis). NTMs are naturally occurring bacteria in the environment (such as in water and soil) affecting several thousands of people each year in the U.S. It is estimated that 50,000 to 90,000 people in the United States have NTM lung disease, and 12,000 to 18,000 people become infected each year. The rate of infection increases significantly in populations over the age of 65.

There are more than 140 identified species of NTM, though many are not known to cause infection in humans. The species most often associated with NTM lung infections include M. avium, M. abscessus, M. chelonae, M. kansasii, and M. fortuitum.

Risk factors for NTM lung disease include underlying pulmonary problems and prior pneumonia. Other lung diseases and conditions such as Bronchiectasis, Cystic Fibrosis, COPD, and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency have been linked to NTM. Diagnosis of NTM lung infection is done with an acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear and culture, and a high-resolution CT scan without contrast.


The COPD Foundation hosted a live discussion with Dr. Addrizzo-Harris, a pulmonologist and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, and an NTM lung disease patient about the importance of early diagnosis, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and living with the condition. The event was streamed on Facebook and can now be accessed below. This event was sponsored by Insmed.

Facebook Live NTM Discussion

A Live Discussion about NTM Lung Disease


More information about NTM lung disease can be found in the NTM Info & Research Insight brochure, which is available for download below in seven languages:

The COPD Foundation has worked closely with NTM Info & Research on the Bronchiectasis and NTM Initiative. To learn more about NTM Info & Research, visit: http://www.ntminfo.org/.

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