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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 4, Issue 6, Pages 328-332
Original Article

Serological Investigation of Pneumonia as It Presents to the Physician’s Office

DB Langille, L Yates, and TJ Marrie

Nova Scotia Department of Health and the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology, Dalhousie University and the Victoria General Hospital, Canada

Received 14 October 1992; Accepted 11 January 1993

Copyright © 1993 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose: To define the etiology of pneumonia, using a battery of serological tests, among patients presenting to physicians’ offices in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia from July 2, 1989 to July 1, 1990.

Methods: Patients presenting to their physician’s office with symptoms suggestive of pneumonia were invited to participate in the study by completing a questionnaire, having a chest radiograph and providing acute and convalescent phase serum samples. These serum samples were tested for antibodies to Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Coxiella burnetii, Legionella pneumophila, adenovirus, and influenza viruses A and B. Some of the samples were tested for antibodies to Chlamydia pneumoniae.

Results: Seventy-five of the inception cohort of 203 patients had a chest radiograph compatible with pneumonia, a completed questionnaire and acute and convalescent phase serum samples. There were 39 females and 36 males with a mean age of 41.7 years. Twenty-six (35%) were admitted to hospital. The mortality rate was 3%. Forty-five per cent had a diagnosis made by serology: M pneumoniae, 22 (29%); influenza A virus, five (7%); C burnetii, L pneumophila, adenovirus, two (3%) each.

Conclusions: While it is not possible to generalize about these findings because of ascertainment bias, the data suggest that M pneumoniae is a common cause of pneumonia presenting to a physician’s office and that mortality is low in this group of patients.