The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

Environmental Pathogens (Past Projects)

Clonal dissemination of Mycobacterium chimaera in Australia and New Zealand

Project Summary

Several recent studies have reported patients with surgical infections following cardiac bypass surgery due to a non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) species, Mycobacterium chimaera. First reported in 2004, M. chimaera has been previously associated with pulmonary infections in immunocompromised patients, and has been isolated from household environmental sources, including tap water and biofilms in aerosol-generating objects such as showerheads and air conditioning units. A range of invasive (and occasionally fatal) infections have been reported in patients following cardiac bypass surgery, including prosthetic valve endocarditis, bloodstream infection, and vascular graft infection. The aim of this research is use genomics to support epidemiological investigations seeking to pinpoint the environmental source(s) of this mycobacterium. 

Project Partners

Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL), Victoria, Australia

South Australia Pathology, South Australia, Australia

Mycobacterial Laboratory, LabPlus, Auckland, New Zealand

PathWest, Western Australia, Australia


Target-Specific Assay for Rapid and Quantitative Detection of Mycobacterium chimaera DNA.

Zozaya-Valdes E, Porter JL, Coventry J, Fyfe JAM, Carter GP, Goncalves da Silva A, Schultz MB, Seemann T, Johnson PDR, Stewardson AJ, Bastian I, Roberts SA, Howden BP, Williamson DA, Stinear TP.  Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2017;55(6):1847-56

Mycobacterium chimaera Spread from Heating and Cooling Units in Heart Surgery

Williamson D, Howden B, Stinear T. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017;376(6):600-2