Background: Mycobacterial infections transmitted by acupuncture are an emerging problem. There have been two reports of mycobacterial infections complicating acupuncture in the English literature. Aim: To describe the clinical manifestations and treatment of patients who acquired localized Mycobacterium abscessus infection in the process of acupuncture. Methods: Clinical manifestations and responses to different methods of treatment were reviewed in 40 patients who developed various skin lesions after acupuncture at a Korean oriental medicine clinic. Results: The morphology of the lesions which developed at the acupuncture sites varied. Although the lesions disappeared with the combined administration of clarithromycin and amikacin for 3 months in most cases, five out of 25 patients (20%) showed residual lesions at the end of treatment, and had to be treated with a higher dosage of clarithromycin or alternative antibiotics based on sensitivity tests. Conclusions: We recommend at least 3 months of treatment with clarithromycin for treating skin infections caused by M. abscessus, with supplementary antibiotics selected based on patients' drug sensitivity tests.
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