oa Molecular Diagnosis and Vaccines - Molecular diagnosis of mycoplasma pneumoniae in children with atypical pneumonia: comparison with the standard culture procedure



Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes a variety of respiratory tract infections in young children and adults. The standard laboratory methods for its diagnosis are culture and serology, but this agent being fastidious and growing slowly limits the usefulness of culture for routine purposes. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique has recently been used as a rapid method for diagnosis of M. pneumoniae infection. In this study we compared culture on selective media as a standard method and direct detection of M. pneumoniae DNA in clinical specimens by PCR. Throat specimens from 40 children suffering from atypical pneumonia and 20 apparently healthy children were studied. A significant difference was found between atypical pneumonia cases and controls as regard total leucocytic count and erythrocyte sedmintation rate. Eight cases (17.5%) were culture positive, while 12 (27.5%) were PCR positive. All culture positive cases were PCR positive, PCR sensitivity was 100%, specificity 92% and accuracy 93.3%. In conclusion, PCR is a sensitive and rapid method for diagnosis of M. pnemoniae infection, while culture on selective media although being specific but time consuming. The high sensitivity of the test allows early initiation of proper antibiotic therapy to decrease morbidity of the disease.


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