Water is recognized as a major source of non-tuberculous Mycobacterium (NTM) species responsible for opportunistic infections in humans. These bacteria usually affect individuals with pre-existing conditions, specifically, lung disease, immunosuppression, transplantation and HIV infection. The most common infections are pneumonia and gastrointestinal disease caused by M. avium and M. intracellulare. Non-immunosuppressed individuals can also acquire NTM infections, most commonly, catheter sepsis, surgical and posttraumatic wound infections and cervical lymphadenitis in children. 

Types of water that may be tested include: potable hot water systems where high risk patients are housed, spas and hot tubs.  

Test Method

Filter concentration and decontamination with 0.2 M KCL-HCL, pH 2.2. Cultivation using Middlebrook 7H10, incubation at 30° C for 6 weeks.

Turn Around Time

6 to 8 weeks

Test Code



The sample volume is 200 ml and should be collected as follows:

  1. Complete Chain of Custody form provided in sampling kit.
  2. Use waterproof pen to label bottle with sample location, description, and date.
  3. Turn on hot water and immediately fill the bottle. Close bottle and invert to mix neutralizer.
  4. Place bottles in box with insulated liner.

Sample Transport

  1. Ship the same day samples are collected
  2. Sample(s) may be refrigerated (2-8° C) overnight if necessary.
  3. Place bottles in box with insulated liner..
  4. Place completed Chain of Custody in plastic document holder and pack in box.
  5. Ship overnight Monday–Thursday only to: Special Pathogens Laboratory, 1401 Forbes Avenue, Suite 401, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Questions? Call 412-281-5335