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Monday, March 19, 2018
MAP in Michigan Tap Water

Research article
Summary:
This publication focuses on improved methods for detecting mycobacteria in water, specifically “nontuberculous mycobacteria” (NTM), of which MAP is a member. Mycobacteria researchers may benefit from these new more sensitive genetic detection techniques.

MAP is one of the most virulent of the NTM bacteria. The study tested domestic water (DW), i.e. tap water, collected in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The DW treatment plant there obtains 80-85% of its water from the Huron River. The rest comes from groundwater wells.

Of interest to readers of this website is that MAP was found as one of the several NTM at 6 of 15 water age time points; see green bars in Fig. 4 of the publication. Water age is the time between leaving the DW treatment plant and reaching the consumer’s household. The authors estimated the concentration of MAP at 35,000 MAP/liter of water: a lot, but only small fraction of all NTM found in the tap water.

Comment: Finding MAP in tap water is not new, but it is concerning. The technology used for MAP detection does not allow determination if the MAP were alive or dead. In addition, the source of MAP in tap water is unknown. What science does know is that MAP replicates primarily in ruminant animals. However, MAP can replicate in free-living amoeba and persist in biofilms of the type found on pipes in water distribution systems. The Huron River watershed is home to over 4,500 dairy cattle and 1,800 goats. Their MAP-infection status is unknown.

Link to full Open Access article in mBio, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology