Mycobacterium africanum

Mycobacterium africanum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Actinobacteria
Order: Actinomycetales
Suborder: Corynebacterineae
Family: Mycobacteriaceae
Genus: Mycobacterium
Species: M. africanum
Binomial name
Mycobacterium africanum
Castets et al. 1969,[1] ATCC 25420

Mycobacterium africanum is a species of Mycobacterium that is most commonly found in West African countries. The symptoms of infection resemble those of M. tuberculosis.

It is a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.[2]


M. africanum is most commonly found in West African countries, causing up to a quarter of cases of tuberculosis in countries such as the Gambia. It is an infection of humans only and is spread by an airborne route from individuals with open cases of disease.

It has a similar degree of infectivity to the regular M. tuberculosis organism but is less likely to progress to clinical disease in an immunocompetent individual.

M. africanum is more likely to progress from infection to causing disease in an HIV positive patient, hence in countries where M. africanum is endemic, it represents an important opportunistic infection of the later stages of HIV disease.


It is not fully understood how the genetic differences between M. africanum and M. tuberculosis give rise to the lower pathogenicity of the former. However, it is known that the Region of Difference 9 (RD9) is lacking in M. africanum but present in M. tuberculosis.[3]


M. africanum tuberculosis is treated with an identical regime to tuberculosis caused by M. tuberculosis. The overall rate of cure is similar, but as more M. africanum patients are likely to be HIV positive, they may have higher mortality from other HIV-related disease

Type strain

ATCC 25420 = CIP 105147


  1. Castets, M.; Rist, N.; Boisvert, H. (1969). "La variété africaine du bacille tuberculeux humain". Médecine d'Afrique Noire. 16: 321–2.
  2. Vasconcellos SE, Huard RC, Niemann S, et al. (2010). "Distinct genotypic profiles of the two major clades of Mycobacterium africanum". BMC Infect. Dis. 10: 80. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-80. PMC 2859774Freely accessible. PMID 20350321.
  3. Brosch R, Gordon SV, Marmiesse M, et al. (March 2002). "A new evolutionary scenario for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99 (6): 3684–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.052548299. PMC 122584Freely accessible. PMID 11891304.


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