Study objectives: To estimate annual incidence of community acquired pneumonia (CAP) in an Italian general population sample.
Design and participants: Two hundred and eighty-seven family practitioners (64.6% of those selected) recorded suspected or ascertained CAP cases for 1 year. Information on smoking habit, respiratory symptoms and signs, co-morbidity, antibiotic and corticosteroid therapy, hospitalization, mortality and recovery were obtained.
Results: Six hundred and ninety-nine case forms were collected (53.1% females, mean age 59.6+/-19.5, 20.6% smokers). CAP incidence rates per 1000 population were: 1.69 in men vs. 1.71 in women; 2.33 in the North vs. 1.29 in the Centre-South of Italy; between 0.73 in 14-, and 3.34 in 64+year-old subjects. Main symptoms and signs were cough (73.3%), crackles (72.8%), dullness (57.3%), asthenia (53.4%). 59.5% of subjects had concurrent diseases, mostly cardiac and respiratory. 77.2% of cases had chest X-ray (with parenchymal density in 90.6%). Phlegm microbiological examination was performed in 12.8% of cases. First choice antibiotics were cephalosporins (45.8%), macrolides (20.2%), other beta-lactams (18.6%), and fluoroquinolones (12.2%). Rates of hospitalization and of mortality were 31.8% and 6.0%, respectively.
Conclusion: This study confirmed that the annual CAP incidence rate in the general population of South Europe is about 2 per 1000 population and showed a wide choice of antibiotic treatment.