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Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Mar 15;32(6):855-61. Epub 2001 Mar 9.

Search for primary infection by Pneumocystis carinii in a cohort of normal, healthy infants.

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Program in Microbiology, Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicus, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


To determine whether Pneumocystis carinii is associated with clinical illness in the competent host, 107 normal, healthy infants were enrolled in a 2-year prospective cohort study in Chile. P. carinii was identified by specific stains and nested--deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) amplification of the large subunit mitochondrial ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene of P. carinii f. sp. hominis, and seroconversion was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of serum samples drawn every 2 months. P. carinii DNA was identified in nasopharyngeal aspirates obtained during episodes of mild respiratory infection in 24 (32%) of 74 infants from whom specimens were available for testing. Three (12.5%) of those 24 infants versus 0 of 50 infants who tested negative for P. carinii had apnea episodes. Seroconversion developed in 67 (85%) of 79 infants who remained in the study by 20 months of age and occurred in the absence of any symptoms of disease in 14 (20.8%). The study indicates that P. carinii DNA can be frequently detected in healthy infants, and it raises the hypothesis that they may be an infectious reservoir of P. carinii in the community. Further investigation is needed to identify whether P. carinii causes overt respiratory disease in infants.

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