Certain types of mycobacterial infections are caused by mycobacteria that exist in soil and water. Medical professionals believe people who have immune dysfunction, lung damage or an underlying illness may be at an increased risk for contracting a mycobacterial infection, explains the American Lung Association.
As of 2015, it is unknown why mycobacterial infections are more prevalent than they were in the past and what exactly causes them. However, a woman is more likely to have a mycobacterial infection than a man, especially if she is Caucasian, according to the American Lung Association.
Mycobacteria generally do not cause illness in humans and are not transferred from one person to another.
However, a mycobacterial infection can require ongoing treatment that lasts for one to two years if it becomes chronic. Strong antibiotics are generally used to treat nontuberculosis mycobacterial infections, states the American Lung Association. Patients are closely monitored as the side effects of these medications can be severe.
Some of the symptoms of a mycobacterial infection include night sweats, fever, weight loss and coughing, reports the American Lung Association. To diagnose an infection, a medical professional reviews a patient’s medical history, conducts lab tests and performs a physical exam. Additionally, a CT scan and a bronchoscopy may be used to provide a view into the lungs.