Atypical pneumonia in adults in southern Africa

Published in: South African Family Practice
Volume 54, issue 4, 2012 , pages: 286–291
DOI: 10.1080/20786204.2012.10874237
Author(s): SK DlaminiDivision of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine,, M MendelsonDivision of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine,


The true incidence of Legionella pneumophilia, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Coxiella burnetii, the so-called atypical pathogens that cause adult community-acquired pneumonia in southern Africa, is unknown. Although there are a lack of community-based studies, hospital-based studies suggest that the incidence may be as high as 30% in patients admitted to, but not requiring, an intensive care unit. A lack of specific clinical features that differentiate atypical pathogens, plus the lack of reliable, simple diagnostics, compound the uncertainty regarding the contribution of atypical pathogens to the sum total of community-acquired pneumonia in southern Africa. Without reliable diagnostic tests, macrolide or azalide antibiotics are widely used for in-patients with pneumonia, potentially fuelling the rise of antibiotic resistance to macrolides in other bacteria.

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