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Scand J Infect Dis. 2009;41(1):45-50. doi: 10.1080/00365540802448799.

Detection of respiratory viruses and Legionella spp. by real-time polymerase chain reaction in patients with community acquired pneumonia.

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  • 1Regional Laboratory of Public Health Haarlem, Haarlem, Haarlem, The Netherlands.


We conducted a study on throat swabs obtained from a group of hospitalized patients with community acquired pneumonia (CAP). Throat swab specimens from 242 adults admitted to hospital with CAP were tested. In total, 1 or more aetiological agents were identified by real-time PCR in 55 (23%) patients. The most frequently detected pathogens were coronavirus (17%), parainfluenza virus (6%) and influenza virus (4%). Overall, viral pathogens were identified by conventional techniques in 7 (2%) patients, and real-time PCR in 50 (21%) patients (p<0.0001). The diagnostic yield increased from 137 cases (57% of patients using conventional microbiological assays) to 158 cases (65% of patients using real-time PCR assays and conventional microbiological assays; p=0.06). A significantly higher percentage of mortality was present in patients with a mixed bacterial and viral infection. L. pneumophila PCR was positive in only 3 out of 11 cases (27%) of Legionnaires' disease (LD). This study demonstrates that real-time PCR can increase the number of microbiological detections of respiratory pathogens, mainly as a result of detection of respiratory viruses.

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