Detection of acid fast bacilli in the saliva of patients having pulmonary tuberculosis

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Gassan Yassen
Jamal Noori
Nadia Sabri Yas


Background: Tuberculosis is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease is
readily detected by demonstration of the bacteria in a clinical specimen. The purpose of this study was to determine
the density of acid fast bacilli in the mixed and parotid saliva samples and to compare them with the sputum, in
addition, to find out the efficacy of the saliva samples in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Subject and Methods: A sample of 25 patients of both sexes, Age ranged from 17-70 participated in this study,
Unstimulated mixed saliva and the parotid saliva was collected for direct .smear of acid fast bacilli by Ziehl-Nelson
acid fast stain. Five samples were inoculated on Lowenstein Jensen media and storen brink media to determine the
presence of the bacilli in the samples.
Results: Concerning the mycobacterium tuberculosis, about 60% of unstimulated mixed saliva revealed positive acid
fast bacilli, while all samples of parotid saliva showed negative acid fast bacilli. There was no significant relationship
between the duration of signs and symptoms of disease and the detection of mycobacterium tuberculosis in the
collected specimens. The density of mycobacterium tuberculosis in the mixed saliva mainly was scanty which mean
it was not more than 2-9 bacilli in at least 100 fields. This confirms the fact that the body fluids commonly contain only
small number of mycobacterium tuberculosis. The five samples of saliva which were inoculated on Lowenstein
Jensen media and stonebrink media showed positive cultures.
Conclusion: Mixed saliva was less efficient than sputum by direct smear of sputum.

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Oral Diagnosis