An extremely rare case of intractable ulcer caused by Mycobacterium shinshuense is described. A 59-year-old Japanese woman developed an ulcerated subcutaneous induration on the upper arm. Ziehl-Neelsen staining revealed positive bacilli. Tissue culture isolated Mycobacterium species, but standard identification techniques (including molecular biological approaches such as DNA-DNA hybridization) could not distinguish the precise causative pathogen, although it was narrowed down to three possibilities: Mycobacterium marinum, Mycobacterium ulcerans and M. shinshuense. Finally, a novel 16S rRNA sequencing method enabled the diagnosis of M. shinshuense infection. The epidemiology of the cutaneous infection caused by this mycobacterium has yet to be elucidated, but a review of reported cases indicated that ulcers having some resemblance to those caused by M. ulcerans infection were found in nonendemic areas and that M. shinshuense could be considered as the cause. The approach introduced in this report could provide a powerful tool for the identification of this organism.
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