Objectives: To determine the importance of Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) of children from different latitudes and to compare clinical outcome using azithromycin (AZM) versus either amoxicillin-clavulanate (A-C) or erythromycin estolate (EE).
Methods: Ambulatory patients with CAP were identified at either the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Texas or the Hospital del Niño of Panama City, Panama. Children 6 months to 15 years of age were enrolled and randomized to receive either AZM for 5 days or a 10 day course of either A-C or EE, for those younger or older than 5 years of age, respectively. Mycoplasma pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae were identified by measuring acute and convalescent serum antibody titers and by performing nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) swabs for culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
Results: Overall 335 patients (168 in Dallas and 167 in Panama) were evaluated from February 1996 through December 1997. Acute M. pneumoniae infection was detected in 12 (7%) patients each in Dallas and Panama. Acute C. pneumoniae infection was observed in 10 (6%) children at each site. Infection caused by these "atypical" microorganisms occurred more frequently in children older than 5 years of age (23% vs 9%, P = 0.001, RR 2.5, 95% CI 1.4-4.3). No distinctive pattern of clinical or radiologic abnormalities was seen in relation to etiology. Clinical cure was achieved in 43 of 44 children infected by these bacteria regardless of treatment assignment.
Conclusion: Mycoplasma pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae are common etiologic agents of CAP in older children from different latitudes. Children with CAP present with similar clinical and radiologic findings to those caused by other etiologic agents. Outcome was excellent for the three treatment regimens studied.