Issue: 2012 > October > review

New trends in the prevention and management of community-acquired pneumonia

D.F. Postma, C.H. van Werkhoven, S.M. Huijts, M. Bolkenbaas, J.J. Oosterheert, M.J.M. Bonten


Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is an important
cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. This review summarises current trends and knowledge gaps in CAP management and prevention. Although Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most frequent cause of CAP, identification of the microbial cause of infection remains unsuccessful in most episodes, and little is known about the aetiology of CAP in immunocompromised patients. Urinary antigen testing has become standard care for diagnosing Legionella infection, and pneumococcal urinary antigen testing is now recommended in the Dutch guidelines to streamline antibiotic therapy in patients hospitalised with CAP. In primary care C-reactive protein determination is recommended to improve antibiotic prescription for lower respiratory tract infections. In patients hospitalised with CAP, three strategies are considered equally effective for choosing empirical antibiotic treatment. Yet, more (and better designed) studies are needed to determine the best
strategy, as well as to determine optimal (which usually
means the minimum) duration of antibiotic therapy and
the role of adjuvant treatment with corticosteroids. The
effectiveness of the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in preventing invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal CAP remains debated, and whether the newer conjugate vaccines are more effective remains to be determined. Many of these questions are currently being addressed in large-scaled trials in the Netherlands, and their results may allow evidence-based decisions in CAP management and prevention.