Archives of Clinical Microbiology

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First Cases of Mycobacterium elephantis in Zimbabwe Revealed by 16S Ribosequencing

Nyasha Chinombe, Ellen Munemo, Marcelyn Magwenzi, Boniface Muzividzi, Pasipanodya Nziramasanga

Mycobacterium elephantis is a Nontuberculous Mycobacterium (NTM) and was originally discovered in an elephant that had died of a respiratory disease. This Mycobacterium species was later found in human clinical specimens in a number of countries. In Zimbabwe, M. elephantis was not previously reported. This report is the first one. Using 16S ribosequencing, we discovered one case of M. elephantis in cow dung and two cases in human sputum samples collected in Zimbabwe. In all three cases, the 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences were 100% identical to the M. elephantis sequences found in the Genbank. The sources of human infection by M. elephantis in Zimbabwe were not clear. Further studies are therefore necessary to ascertain the prevalence and clinical relevance of M. elephantis in humans in Zimbabwe.