Respiratory System: Bacterial Infections


Bacteria are a common cause of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. An understanding of the classification, likely pathogens, clinical presentation and investigation is needed to plan the logical management of patients.

Keywords: bronchitis; pneumonia; antibiotics; lower respiratory tract infection; upper respiratory tract infection

Figure 1.

Photomicrograph of a section of lung from an adult who died from pneumococcal lobar pneumonia. The alveolar walls can be easily seen and are only slightly thickened. The alveolar spaces are filled with exudate and acute inflammatory cells.

Figure 2.

A Gram stain of sputum from a patient with pneumococcal pneumonia. Gram‐positive cocci can be seen, some having been phagocytosed by neutrophils.

Figure 3.

Chest radiograph of a 68‐year‐old man admitted with right lower lobe pneumonia associated with pleurisy and a right pleural effusion. A large heart is also present.



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Further Reading

British Thoracic Society (1993) Guidelines for the management of community acquired pneumonia in adults. British Journal of Hospital Medicine 49: 346–350.

Macfarlane JT, Finch RG and Cotton RE (1993) A Colour Atlas of Respiratory Infections. London: Chapman and Hall Medical.

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American Thoracic Society (1993) Guidelines for the initial management of adults with community‐acquired pneumonia: diagnosis, assessment of severity, and initial antimicrobial therapy. American Review of Respiratory Diseases 148: 1418–1426.

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How to Cite close
Macfarlane, John T(Apr 2001) Respiratory System: Bacterial Infections. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002218]