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The incidence and aetiology of respiratory tract infections in general practice--with emphasis on Mycoplasma pneumoniae



The incidence and aetiology of respiratory tract infections in general practice--with emphasis on Mycoplasma pneumoniae



Infection 4(1 Suppl): 40-48



The incidence of respiratory tract infections in patients seeking medical advice at a community care centre (Dalby) during 1973 and 1974 was studied. About every third patient seen at this primary health station presented with signs of such infections. In the age groups less than 10, 10-19, 20-39, 40-59 and greater than or equal to 60 years, respiratory tract infections accounted for 65, 45, 32, 18 and 9% of the fotal number of diagnoses made during 1974. The aetiology of acute respiratory tract infections in a series of patients seen at this health station was studied. The series included randomly selected cases, but excluded children under seven years of age and patients presenting with signs of acute otitis media and tonsillitis. Attempts to establish the aetiology were made on the basis of the history, the clinical examination, and cultures for beta-haemolytic streptococci and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, complement foxation tests for influenza A and B, para-influenza 1, 2, and 3, adeno, cytomegalovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, and Chlamydia psittaci. Paul-Bunnell test and tests for cold agglutinins were also performed. With this test battery, an aetiological diagnosis was obtained in only 33% of the 101 patients studied. The findings suggest an infection with M.pneumoniae in 16%, with beta-haemolytic streptococci in 9%, and with viruses (adeno and para-influenza) in 7% of the patients. The present communication highlights the role of M.pneumoniae in upper respiratory infections, as few data have appeared on such infections in patients seen in general practice. The difficulty of establishing the aetiology of respiratory tract infections and the consequent treatment dilemma is discussed.

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Accession: 041671211

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PMID: 783048


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