Objectives: Community-acquired respiratory infections (CARTIs) are responsible for serious morbidities worldwide. Identifying the aetiology can decrease the use of unnecessary antimicrobial therapy. In this study, we intend to determine the pathogenic agents responsible for respiratory infections in patients presenting to the emergency department of several Lebanese hospitals.
Methods: A total of 100 patients presenting to the emergency departments of four Lebanese hospitals and identified as having CARTIs between September 2017 and September 2018 were recruited. Specimens of upper and lower respiratory tract samples were collected. Pathogens were detected by a multiplex polymerase chain reaction respiratory panel.
Results: Of 100 specimens, 84 contained at least one pathogen. Many patients were detected with ≥2 pathogens. The total number of pathogens from these 84 patients was 163. Of these pathogens, 36 (22%) were human rhinovirus, 28 (17%) were Streptococcus pneumoniae, 16 (10%) were metapneumovirus, 16 (10%) were influenza A virus, and other pathogens were detected with lower percentages. As expected, the highest occurrence of pathogens was observed between December and March. Respiratory syncytial virus accounted for 2% of the cases and only correlated to paediatric patients.
Conclusion: CARTI epidemiology is important and understudied in Lebanon. This study offers the first Lebanese data about CARTI pathogens. Viruses were the most common aetiologies of CARTIs. Thus, a different approach must be used for the empirical management of CARTI. Rapid testing might be useful in identifying patients who need antibiotic therapy.
Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; epidemiology; microbiology; respiratory infections; respiratory pathogens.