Mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium, Myco-bac-terium leprae, Mycobacterium kansasii, Mycobacterium fortuitum-M, Mycobacterium chelonae, and a few others are pathogenic organisms that cause very serious diseases in humans. The characteristic feature of mycobacteria is their high content of lipids (about 40% of their mass), and they are primarily located on the outer bacterial membrane.
As a rule, typical mycobacteria cause tuberculosis, while atypical mycobacteria cause a few other diseases. Mycobacteria of group I (photochromogens) cause diseases associated with pigmentation; mycobacteria of group II (scotochromogens) cause lymphadenitis in children; mycobacterial organisms of group III cause certain pulmonary diseases; and finally, mycobacteria of group IV (Mycobacterium fortuitum) cause rare pulmonary and nonpulmonary diseases that do not respond to treatment by the usual selection of antituberculosis drugs, and that require treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Apart from these is leprosy (leprosies, Hansen's disease), which is caused by the microorganism Mycobacterium leprae.
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