Investigations following major outbreaks of lung inflammation in metal workers, in the United States and more recently in the UK, suggest there is a link between Mycobacterium chelonae complex bacteria and recent outbreaks of respiratory pneumonitis and occupational asthma. Based upon laboratory studies using mice the hypothesised route for contracting infection is via inhalation of metalworking fluid aerosols containing the bacterium. Although there is no current requirement from the UK Health and Safety Executive to routinely test for the Mycobacterium chelonae complex this is likely to change in the event that a link with human respiratory inflammation is confirmed. This has prompted reputable operators to initiate testing programs for chelonae complex Mycobacteria in order to assess the risk to workers, and the potential for disruptions to production.
The Microbial Solution
In response to the demand from large scale engineering operations in the UK Microbial Solutions offers the only European based service for species level identification of bacteria from the Mycobacterium chelonae complex. Microbial Solutions has a wealth of experience in industry and in particular with the microbiology of in use metal working fluids, and has a proven track record in providing Mycobacterial diagnostic services to large engineering operators. The Microbial Solutions service is comprehensive, offering culturing and enumeration, supplementary identification by acid fast staining, and definitive species level identification of M. Chelonae complex, based upon genetic typing.