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Eur J Epidemiol. 2000;16(12):1099-106.

Low prevalence of Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae among patients with symptoms of respiratory tract infections in Dutch general practices.

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  • 1Research Laboratory for Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Acute respiratory disease is one of the most common reasons to consult a general practitioner. A substantial part of these diseases cannot be explained by an infection with a virus or a common pathogenic bacterium. To study this diagnostic deficit, the prevalence of Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections was determined in two groups of patients consulting a general practitioner. DNA of C. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae was detected by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in nose/throat swabs from six (1.1%), and from seven (1.3%) patients, respectively, of 557 patients consulting a general practitioner for complaints suggestive for a virus infection during the 1994/1995 respiratory infections season. Two patients remained C. pneumoniae PCR-positive for at least 4 weeks. All others were negative within 3 weeks. Double infections of C. pneumoniae and influenza virus (3/6), and of M. pneumoniae and respiratory syncytial virus (1/7) or rhinovirus (1/7) were diagnosed. During the 1992/1993 season, attempts to isolate C. pneumoniae in cell culture or to detect C. pneumoniae DNA by PCR using throat swabs were all negative for 80 patients with a sore throat, although serological data suggested a C. pneumoniae infection in 13 (16%) patients. A specimen from another patient of this group was M. pneumoniae PCR-positive and the corresponding serum specimens showed a persistent high antibody titre. In summary, the prevalence of acute C. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae infections was less than 2% in patients consulting a general practitioner.

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