Background: Measles continues to be a significant health problem in developing countries.
Objectives: To describe the clinical features of measles-associated pneumonia (MAP) and to identify other pathogens involved.
Methods: Measles diagnosis was ascertained either by the typical symptom complex or by a sensitive enzyme immunoassay for antibody among children < 5 years of age admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Other pathogens were identified by blood culture, virus isolation or antigen detection from nasopharyngeal aspirate and antibody determination from serum.
Results: Of 182 MAP cases 162 (89%) had clinically typical measles. Twenty patients had a diagnostic antibody finding with an atypical clinical presentation. Thirteen percent were younger than 9 months of age. The case fatality rate was 17%, with a significantly increased odds ratio (OR) for those with cyanosis [OR 4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7 to 13], respiratory rate > or = 60/min (OR 3, 95% CI 1.3 to 7) or fulfilling criteria for very severe pneumonia (OR 5.3, 95% CI 2.3 to 12). Mixed infection was found in 53% of patients. Blood culture was positive in 10 patients, Streptococcus pneumoniae (N = 5) being the most common finding. Adenovirus (19%) and parainfluenza (25%) viruses were the most frequent other viruses. A dense infiltrate was seen significantly more often among measles patients with bacterial coinfection (87.5%) than those with other viruses (36%, P = 0.007) or no evidence of other infection (33%, P = 0.004).
Conclusion: In MAP, coinfection with other microbes is common. Cyanosis and a respiratory rate of > or = 60/min predict a greater risk of dying.