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Int J Infect Dis. 2005 May;9(3):144-53. Epub 2004 Nov 25.

An Asian study on the prevalence of atypical respiratory pathogens in community-acquired pneumonia.

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University Malaya Medical Centre, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.



In many parts of Asia, the inaccessibility and high cost of diagnostic tests have hampered the study of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) caused by atypical respiratory pathogens.


This surveillance study examined the frequency of infection with Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and Legionella pneumophila in 1756 patients presenting with signs and symptoms of CAP at 12 medical centres in Asia, using standardised laboratory techniques and interpretation criteria in all participating centres.


Diagnosis of current infection was based on significant changes in antibody titer or persisting high antibody titers, together with the presence of bacterial DNA in respiratory secretions, in the case of M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae infections, or bacterial antigen in urine, in the case of L. pneumophila serogroup 1 infection.


Using these criteria, results from 1374 patients with paired sera showed that, overall, 23.5% of CAP cases were associated with infection with atypical respiratory pathogens, with M. pneumoniae, C. pneumoniae, and L. pneumophila being found in 12.2%, 4.7%, and 6.6% of cases, respectively. Persisting high antibody titers indicative of past exposure to M. pneumoniae, C. pneumoniae, and L. pneumophila were seen in 10.2%, 4.8%, and 18.9% of patients, respectively.


These data reflect the overall high prevalence of these atypical pathogens among Asian patients with CAP.

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