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N Engl J Med. 1981 Dec 10;305(24):1431-8.

An outbreak of community-acquired Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia: initial manifestation of cellular immune dysfunction.


Eleven cases of community-acquired Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia occurred between 1979 and 1981 and prompted clinical and immunologic evaluation of the patients. Young men who were drug abusers (seven patients), homosexuals (six), or both (two) presented with pneumonia. Immunologic testing revealed that absolute lymphocyte counts, T-cell counts, and lymphocyte proliferation were depressed, and that humoral immunity was intact. Of the 11 patients, one was found to have Kaposi's sarcoma, and another had angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy. Eight patients died. In the remaining three, no diagnosis of an immunosuppressive disease was established, despite persistence of immune defects. These cases of pneumocystosis suggest the importance of cell-mediated immune function in the defense against P. carinii. The occurrence of this infection among drug abusers and homosexuals indicates that these groups may be at high risk for this infection.

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