Duchin said that many more cases may be occurring, but they may go unrecognized because in some people "[the infections] get better on their own."
Labs don't normally run tests for this type of bacteria, in part because doing so is difficult and takes a long time. But Duchin says doctors who see patients with otherwise unexplained infections should consider Mycobacterium haemophilum as a source.
Another concern is the growing popularity of body art, which may be designed and applied by artists who are less than diligent at adhering to safe practices.
"For healthcare providers, the key is to think about these organisms in patients who develop tattoo- associated infections, especially those that don't respond to initial treatment."