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J Asthma. 2016;53(3):253-60. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2015.1075548. Epub 2016 Jan 22.

Virus and Mycoplasma pneumoniae prevalence in a selected pediatric population with acute asthma exacerbation.

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a Fundación Neumológica Colombiana , Bogotá , Colombia and.
b Molecular Diagnostics and Bioinformatics Laboratory, Biological Sciences Department , Faculty of Science, Universidad de los Andes , Bogotá , Colombia.



To determine the prevalence of viral and atypical bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in children experiencing asthma exacerbation and compare positive and negative subjects with regard to exacerbation severity, need for hospitalization, and treatment.


One hundred sixty-nine asthmatic children aged 2-15 years old who were admitted to emergency rooms in Bogota, Colombia for acute asthma exacerbation were interviewed. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were taken for DNA and RNA extraction. M. pneumoniae and virus were detected by PCR using specific primers.


The prevalence of M. pneumoniae and viral infection in the study population was 12.4% and 83.7%, respectively. All subjects positive for M. pneumoniae were also positive for viral infection. Rhinovirus was the most frequently detected viral agent. No significant differences in severity of asthma exacerbations or in need for hospitalization between the virus or M. pneumoniae positive and negative groups were observed. A significantly lower percentage of M. pneumoniae positive subjects had used inhaled steroids over the six months prior to asthma exacerbation compared to M. pneumoniae negative subjects (38.1% vs. 68.2%), suggesting that inhaled corticosteroids may have a protective effect against M. pneumoniae infections.


The M. pneumoniae and virus prevalence found in this study were similar to those described in the literature. The 100% co-infection rate observed suggests that viral infection can predispose patients to M. pneumoniae infection, and that this interaction may trigger asthmatic exacerbation. Further studies should be done to confirm the protective effect of inhaled corticosteroids on M. pneumoniae infection in patients with asthma exacerbations.


Asthma exacerbations; PCR; atypical bacteria; inhaled corticosteroids; viral infection

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