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      Bacterial Complications of Respiratory Tract Viral Illness: A Comprehensive Evaluation

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          Background.  Respiratory tract infection is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization among adults, and recent evidence suggests that many of these illnesses are associated with viruses. Although bacterial infection is known to complicate viral infections, the frequency and impact of mixed viral-bacterial infections has not been well studied.

          Methods.  Adults hospitalized with respiratory illness during 3 winters underwent comprehensive viral and bacterial testing. This assessment was augmented by measuring the serum level of procalcitonin (PCT) as a marker of bacterial infection. Mixed viral-bacterial infection was defined as a positive viral test result plus a positive bacterial assay result or a serum PCT level of ≥ 0.25 ng/mL on admission or day 2 of hospitalization.

          Results.  Of 842 hospitalizations (771 patients) evaluated, 348 (41%) had evidence of viral infection. A total of 212 hospitalizations (61%) involved patients with viral infection alone. Of the remaining 136 hospitalizations (39%) involving viral infection, results of bacterial tests were positive in 64 (18%), and PCT analysis identified bacterial infection in an additional 72 (21%). Subjects hospitalized with mixed viral-bacterial infections were older and more commonly received a diagnosis of pneumonia. Over 90% of hospitalizations in both groups involved subjects who received antibiotics. Notably, 4 of 10 deaths among subjects hospitalized with viral infection alone were secondary to complications of Clostridium difficile colitis.

          Conclusions.  Bacterial coinfection is associated with approximately 40% of viral respiratory tract infections requiring hospitalization. Patients with positive results of viral tests should be carefully evaluated for concomitant bacterial infection. Early empirical antibiotic therapy for patients with an unstable condition is appropriate but is not without risk.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Improved Diagnosis of the Etiology of Community-Acquired Pneumonia with Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction

          Abstract Background . Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been shown to be more sensitive than current standard microbiological methods and, therefore, may improve the accuracy of microbiological diagnosis for patients with CAP. Methods . Conventional detection techniques and multiplex real-time PCR for atypical bacteria and respiratory viruses were performed on samples collected from 105 adults enrolled in a prospective study. An infiltrate was visible on each patient's chest radiograph, and a pneumonia severity index score was determined for each patient. Results . Microbiological diagnoses were determined for 52 (49.5%) of 105 patients by conventional techniques and for 80 (76%) of 105 patients by real-time PCR. The time to obtain the result of real-time PCR could be reduced to 6 h. PCR methodology was significantly more sensitive for the detection of atypical pathogens and viruses (P ⩽ .001). Respiratory viral infections and mixed infections were detected in 15 (14.2%) and 3 (2.8%) of 105 patients, respectively, by conventional methods, but were detected in 59 (56.2%) and 28 (26.5%) of 105, respectively, by real-time PCR. Presence of a mixed infection was significantly associated with severe pneumonia (P = .002). Human rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, OC43 and 229E, were frequently identified pathogens. Conclusions . The combined real-time PCR assay is more sensitive for diagnosis of the main viruses and atypical bacteria that cause CAP compared with conventional methods, and obtains results in a clinically relevant time period.
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            Pulmonary pathologic findings of fatal 2009 pandemic influenza A/H1N1 viral infections.

            In March 2009, a novel swine-origin influenza A/H1N1 virus was identified. After global spread, the World Health Organization in June declared the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. To describe the clinicopathologic characteristics of 34 people who died following confirmed A/H1N1 infection with emphasis on the pulmonary pathology findings. We reviewed medical records, autopsy reports, microbiologic studies, and microscopic slides of 34 people who died between May 15 and July 9, 2009, and were investigated either by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (32 deaths) or through the consultation service of a coauthor (2 deaths). Most of the 34 decedents (62%) were between 25 and 49 years old (median, 41.5 years). Tracheitis, bronchiolitis, and diffuse alveolar damage were noted in most cases. Influenza viral antigen was observed most commonly in the epithelium of the tracheobronchial tree but also in alveolar epithelial cells and macrophages. Most cases were reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction positive for influenza. Histologic and microbiologic autopsy evidence of bacterial pneumonia was detected in 55% of cases. Underlying medical conditions including cardiorespiratory diseases and immunosuppression were present in 91% of cases. Obesity (body mass index, >30) was noted in 72% of adult and adolescent cases. The pulmonary pathologic findings in fatal disease caused by the novel pandemic influenza virus are similar to findings identified in past pandemics. Superimposed bacterial infections of the respiratory tract were common. Preexisting obesity, cardiorespiratory diseases, and other comorbidities also were prominent findings among the decedents.
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              Procalcitonin algorithms for antibiotic therapy decisions: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and recommendations for clinical algorithms.

              Previous randomized controlled trials suggest that using clinical algorithms based on procalcitonin levels, a marker of bacterial infections, results in reduced antibiotic use without a deleterious effect on clinical outcomes. However, algorithms differed among trials and were embedded primarily within the European health care setting. Herein, we summarize the design, efficacy, and safety of previous randomized controlled trials and propose adapted algorithms for US settings. We performed a systematic search and included all 14 randomized controlled trials (N = 4467 patients) that investigated procalcitonin algorithms for antibiotic treatment decisions in adult patients with respiratory tract infections and sepsis from primary care, emergency department (ED), and intensive care unit settings. We found no significant difference in mortality between procalcitonin-treated and control patients overall (odds ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.73-1.14) or in primary care (0.13; 0-6.64), ED (0.95; 0.67-1.36), and intensive care unit (0.89; 0.66-1.20) settings individually. A consistent reduction was observed in antibiotic prescription and/or duration of therapy, mainly owing to lower prescribing rates in low-acuity primary care and ED patients, and shorter duration of therapy in moderate- and high-acuity ED and intensive care unit patients. Measurement of procalcitonin levels for antibiotic decisions in patients with respiratory tract infections and sepsis appears to reduce antibiotic exposure without worsening the mortality rate. We propose specific procalcitonin algorithms for low-, moderate-, and high-acuity patients as a basis for future trials aiming at reducing antibiotic overconsumption.

                Author and article information

                J Infect Dis
                J. Infect. Dis
                The Journal of Infectious Diseases
                Oxford University Press
                1 August 2013
                9 May 2013
                : 208
                : 3
                : 432-441
                [1 ] Department of Medicine
                [2 ] Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester
                [3 ] Rochester General Hospital , New York
                [4 ] Veterans Affairs Medical Center
                [5 ] George Washington University , Washington, D.C.
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ann R. Falsey, MD, Infectious Disease Unit, Rochester General Hospital, 1425 Portland Ave, Rochester, NY, 14621 ( ann.falsey@ ).
                © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@ .

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Major Articles and Brief Reports

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

                pneumonia, virus, bacterial infection, procalcitonin


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