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The use of rapid tests for the identification of mycobacteria has been advocated primarily for Mycobacterium tuberculosis; however, they have been accepted less widely than expected. Chromatographic methods are best suited for larger laboratories, whereas nucleic acid probes may be used by laboratories that can justify the cost based on volume and pricing. Nucleic acid sequencing offers the possibility of providing the most exact identification of species of mycobacteria, but its use is limited to reference laboratories that have the applicable resources. Because of their clinical importance, all mycobacteria should be identified using the most rapid methods available.
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