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Free Content Cryptococcal pneumonia in African miners at autopsy

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SETTING: Deceased miners from South Africa whose cardiorespiratory organs were submitted for autopsy for compensation for occupational lung diseases from 1996 to 2000.

OBJECTIVES: To 1) calculate the prevalence of cryptococcal pneumonia in 8421 autopsied miners, a population with a high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; 2) document the association of cryptococcal pneumonia with other pulmonary infection; 3) document the association of cryptococcal pneumonia with a clinical diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis; and 4) determine the accuracy of the clinical diagnosis of cryptococcal pneumonia.

DESIGN: Case series of 589 black miners with histological evidence of cryptococcal pneumonia at autopsy, defined as the presence of cryptococcal organisms in the lung parenchyma, identified by staining of the mucinous capsule.

RESULTS: The incidence of cryptococcal pneumonia at autopsy was 7%. Ninety-seven of the 589 cases (16.5%) had a concomitant respiratory infection, most commonly Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (51.5%), followed by mycobacterial infection (42.3%). In life, cryptococcal meningitis was diagnosed in 46.9% and cryptococcal pneumonia in only 2.7%.

CONCLUSION: Although tuberculosis remains the most common HIV-associated respiratory disease in Africa, it is important to consider the diagnosis of cryptococcal pneumonia in acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients, and to bear in mind the possibility of dual pathology.

Keywords: Africa; HIV; autopsy; cryptococcal pneumonia; miners

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Respiratory Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa 2: National Institute for Occupational Health, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa 3: Department of Surgery, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 4: School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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