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November 1990

From Micrococcus to Moraxella: The Reemergence of Branhamella catarrhalis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(11):2254-2257. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390220016005

Sir William Osler once stated "Keep an open mind toward pneumonia. Our grandchildren will be interested and are likely to have as many differences of opinion regarding the disease as we have."1 One difference of opinion that developed among Osler's ideologic grandchildren is the pathogenicity of an organism now referred to as Branhamella catarrhalis. Branhamella catarrhalis, a normal colonizer of the oropharynx, is being increasingly recognized as a cause of bronchitis and pneumonia.2-5 Because the organism rarely causes bacteremia or empyema, diagnosis is usually based on findings from expectorated sputum. Uncertainty about the true frequency of Branhamella respiratory infection revolves around controversy concerning the definitive diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia. While this organism, formerly called Neisseria catarrhalis, was considered nonpathogenic in the 1960s and 1970s, it is now recognized by some to be one of the common pathogens in respiratory infections.6 The remarkable emergence of B catarrhalis raises

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