Eighteen acute lower respiratory tract infections in 16 young children in Calcutta, India, were investigated for bacteria, viruses, and mycoplasmas by methods which routinely included lung tap. Cultures of the nasopharynx, throat, and tracheal aspirate yielded moderately helpful but imprecise data, whereas the lung tap was quite specifically informative and was relatively safe. Seven lung taps were culturally positive for recognized pulmonary pathogens; six of these yielded Hemophilus influenzae alone or accompanied by other organisms. Poliovirus, type 1, was an unexpected lung tap isolate and was the only virus recovered from a bacteriologically sterile lung tap. A complex interaction of bacterial and nonbacterial agents was suggested by the evidence in all but 3 of the 18 instances of more than one potentially pathogenic organism. Since the population studied was definitely abnormal by North American standards of length, weight, and subcutaneous fat thickness, the authors suggest that the microbiologic data should be applied cautiously to well nourished populations.

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