Objective: The objective of the present study was to assess the incidence of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in children caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Methodology: During 12 months in 1981-1982, all CAP cases in a defined child population were registered. M. pneumoniae aetiology, initially measured by complement fixation (CF) test, was in 1999 supplemented by measurement of IgG and IgM antibodies using enzyme immunoassays (EIA).
Results: M. pneumoniae was detected in 61 (30%) of 201 paediatric CAP cases, being the most common aetiological agent in those 5 years of age or over. At that age, M. pneumoniae was responsible for over 50% of cases, and over 90% of mycoplasmal cases were treated as outpatients. The EIA detected 17 new cases over and above the 44 detected by CF, while CF alone revealed 10 cases. The incidence of M. pneumoniae CAP increased with age, being over 10/1000 children at the age of 10 years or more. Co-infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae were present in over 30% and 15%, respectively, of mycoplasmal CAP cases.
Conclusion: M. pneumoniae is a common cause of paediatric CAP in primary health care, and co-infections with S. pneumoniae are common. Both S. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae should be taken into account when starting antibiotics for children with CAP.