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Med J Aust. 1991 May 6;154(9):592-6.

Branhamella (Moraxella) catarrhalis: pathogenic significance in respiratory infections.

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1
University of Queensland Department of Medicine, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, South Brisbane.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the pathogenic significance of Branhamella catarrhalis isolates in patients with respiratory infections and to define the clinical characteristics of such patients.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Respiratory specimens were assessed in a three-year prospective study performed in a Brisbane metropolitan hospital. Assessment of the pathogenic significance of isolates of B. catarrhalis was based on four predetermined criteria: (i) clinical evidence of respiratory infection based on history, examination and chest x-ray; (ii) isolation of B. catarrhalis as the sole potential pathogen; (iii) absence of antibiotic treatment in the previous two weeks; and (iv) subsequent clinical response to an antibiotic to which the isolate was sensitive.

RESULTS:

B. catarrhalis was identified in 118 respiratory samples, 92 (78%) being from patients less than 10 years old. Infection with B. catarrhalis was more commonly seen in winter months and was community-acquired in two-thirds of cases. Isolation of this organism was associated with a broad variety of upper and lower respiratory tract syndromes. Isolates were considered to be of pathogenic significance (all four above criteria satisfied) in 35% of cases and of possible significance (the first and fourth criteria satisfied) in a further 15% of cases. Isolates were more likely to be of pathogenic significance in older patients and in those with pre-existing cardiorespiratory disease; however, a number of serious infections were observed in previously-well children. Expectorated sputum and tracheal aspirates were more likely to yield a clinically significant isolate than nasopharyngeal aspirates. Production of beta-lactamase was demonstrated in 88% of isolates.

CONCLUSION:

B. catarrhalis causes respiratory infection more frequently than is generally appreciated. Isolation of this organism from the respiratory tract had pathogenic significance or possible pathogenic significance in 50% of our patients. If therapy is indicated in patients with respiratory infection caused by this organism, traditional beta-lactam regimens cannot be relied upon, as shown by the high rate of beta-lactamase production in this study; a tetracycline, erythromycin, a second or third generation cephalosporin, or the combination of a penicillin derivative and beta-lactamase inhibitor should be considered.

PMID:
1905385
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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