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Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Nov;46(5):401-4. Epub 2005 Aug 1.

Fatal community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia in an immunocompetent young adult.

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1
Department of Emergency Medicine, Alameda County Medical Center-Highland Campus, Oakland, CA 94602, USA. bfrazee@hghed.com

Abstract

Severe pneumonia caused by community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was reported in children soon after this pathogen emerged in the United States in the 1990s. Genes for Panton Valentine leukocidin, which are present in the majority of community-associated MRSA, are thought to enhance the ability of S aureus to cause necrotizing pneumonia. Despite the rapid spread throughout the United States of community-associated MRSA and related skin and soft-tissue infections, reports of severe pneumonia in adults have been rare. We describe a case of a healthy young adult who initially was treated as an outpatient with levofloxacin for what appeared to be typical community-acquired pneumonia. He soon returned to the emergency department (ED) with rapidly fatal necrotizing pneumonia, associated with hemoptysis, leukopenia, and sepsis syndrome, that was caused by community-associated MRSA carrying genes for Panton Valentine leukocidin. This case highlights the typical features of this form of pneumonia and the need to consider MRSA when evaluating and treating severe pneumonia in the ED. It also raises the question of whether the incidence of this form of pneumonia might be increasing in communities with a high prevalence of community-associated MRSA and whether current pneumonia treatment guidelines should be modified.

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