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A class of antibiotics of which erythromycin is the best known example. Some newer macrolides –  azithromycin and clarithromycin – are used to treat cases of multidrug resistant tuberculosis and disease due to certain environmental mycobacteria.


One of the classes of phagocytic cells and particularly involved in chronic infections such as tuberculosis.

Mantoux test

A method for performing the tuberculin test by injecting a set amount (usually 0.1 ml) of tuberculin into the skin with a hypodermic syringe.


The space in the thoracic (chest) cavity behind the sternum (breast bone) and in between the two pleural sacs (containing the lungs). It contains the heart, oesophagus, major blood vessels and the lymph nodes at the roots of the lungs.


See tuberculous meningitis.

Examining a sample under a microscope (see sputum microscopy).
Miliary tuberculosis

A form of disseminated tuberculosis occurring in patients with relatively good immune responses.  The lesions are millet-seed sized granulomas (Latin: milium – a millet seed) that are easily seen on chest radiographs and, sometimes, on the retina by use of an ophthalmoscope.  Miliary lesions differ from those of cryptogenic disseminated tuberculosis.

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)

A patient does not respond when treated with Isoniazid and Rifampicin. They may or may not also be resistant to other drugs, though, with care, most patients can be cured by use of alternative drugs.

The name of the genus of bacteria which includes the tubercle and leprosy bacilli and the environmental mycobacteria.  The name means ‘fungus bacteria’, in allusion to the mould-like pellicles they form on liquid culture media.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex

A group of very closely related species that cause tuberculosis in humans and other mammals.  These are Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. bovis, M. africanum and M. microti – the vole tubercle bacillus.

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