JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- N.T.M.; Nontuberculous Mycobacterium Complex.
Ever heard of it?
If not, one woman we'll call Mary Lou is convinced you'll not only hear about the currently rare respiratory infection, she believes it'll become a large public health issued within this decade.
She and some researchers are convinced she got it -- in her shower; specifically the bacterial buildup most of us will see on our shower head at some point.
For 30 minutes at a time, Mary Lou would often stand in a steamy shower, apparently breathing in harmful bacteria.
In the end, she had to have part of her lung removed.
You can hear her raspy voice and cough in the video on this web page.
A cough is just one of the symptoms of N.T.M.
Other symptoms are night sweats and a fever, weight and appetite loss, and a lack of energy.
Experts say N.T.M. is not a contagious condition.
After learning that a Colorado researcher and his students found 30-percent of shower heads harbor significant levels of disease-causing bacteria, we contacted University of North Florida biologist Dr. Terri Ellis to check out the ladies' shower head in our TV station.
Check out the video on this web page to see the muck she found and how much that bacteria grew in just a few days.
"Our world is filled with bacteria, which even lives on our skin," Dr. Ellis explains, "so finding some bacteria isn't a bad or unusual thing."
However, she admits our TV station shower head needs a heavy-duty cleaning, or needs to be replaced.
Be aware; experts say bacteria will eventually appear even on a new shower head.
To treat the shower heads in your home, experts suggest removing and soaking your shower heads in bleach or vinegar to get rid of calcium deposits.
First Coast News