You probably have heard of other mycobacterial diseases. The two most famous, or infamous, forms of mycobacteria are different than NTM lung illness. They are Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and Mycobacterium Leprae (leprosy), both of which have caused great human suffering and are contagious (spread from person to person).
Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) should not be confused with TB or leprosy. There is considerable scientific evidence that NTMs are acquired from environmental exposure. In the past, people thought NTM lung disease was relatively rare, but newer data shows that it is not as rare as we previously thought, and the numbers of patients diagnosed with NTM lung disease are rising each year.
Click here to read more on the epidemiology of NTM.