Pulmonary involvement is a rare complication of brucellosis. We describe the largest series to date, to our knowledge, of patients with pulmonary brucellosis.
This 10-year, retrospective, descriptive study involved 27 centers in Turkey, including all patients with brucellosis with confirmed respiratory system involvement.
Of 133 patients (67 men), 123 (92.5%) had acute infection (defined as < 2 months), with an overall mean ± SD duration of symptoms of 33.9 ± 8.5 days. The radiologic pattern of pulmonary disease was consolidation/lobar pneumonia in 91 patients (68.4%) and pleural effusion in 41 patients (30.8%), including 30 (22.5%) with both. Moreover, 23 patients (17.3%) had bronchitis (one with coexistent pneumonia), and 10 (7.5%) had nodular lung lesions (one with coexistent pneumonia and effusion). Blood culture results were positive in 56 of 119 patients, and all other cases were serologically confirmed. None of 60 sputum specimens and two of 19 pleural fluid samples (10.5%) yielded positive culture results for brucellosis. Other features of brucellosis, such as osteoarticular complications, were detected in 61 patients (45.9%); 59 (44.4%) had raised liver transaminase levels, and 59 (44.4%) had thrombocytopenia. Fifteen patients (11.3%) required management in an ICU for an average of 3.8 ± 2.2 days. All patients responded to standard combination antimicrobial therapy for brucellosis with no deaths, although treatment regimens required modification in seven patients.
Brucellosis with pulmonary involvement is rare but has a good prognosis following treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Many clues in the exposure history, presenting clinical features, and baseline blood tests should alert the clinician to consider brucellosis.