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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


DANGOR, Z et al. Bronchiolitis v. bronchopneumonia: Navigating antibiotic use within the lower respiratory tract infection spectrum. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2023, vol.113, n.6, pp.1199-1202. ISSN 2078-5135.

Bronchiolitis, a common reason for infant hospitalisation in South Africa (SA), is caused by viral pathogens. Bronchiolitis is typically an illness of mild to moderate severity that occurs in well-nourished children. Hospitalised SA infants frequently have severe disease and/or coexisting medical conditions, and these cases of bronchiolitis may have bacterial co-infection that requires antibiotic therapy. However, the existence of widespread antimicrobial resistance in SA warrants the judicious use of antibiotics. This commentary describes: (i) common clinical pitfalls leading to an incorrect diagnosis of bronchopneumonia; and (ii) considerations for antibiotic therapy in hospitalised infants with bronchiolitis. If antibiotics are prescribed, the indication for their use should be clearly stated, and antibiotic therapy must be stopped promptly if investigations indicate that bacterial co-infection is unlikely. Until more robust data emerge, we recommend a pragmatic management strategy to inform antibiotic use in hospitalised SA infants with bronchiolitis in whom bacterial co-infection is suspected.

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