Rhinovirus Associated With Severe Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Children

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Rhinovirus is a respiratory virus most typically associated with the common cold and asthma exacerbations, and has not traditionally been considered to play a major role in severe lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs). As part of a surveillance program for respiratory pathogens of public health importance, children consecutively admitted to intensive care for LRTI at a large tertiary children's hospital were tested with polymerase chain reaction for 11 respiratory viruses and Mycoplasma pneumoniae from February 21 to October 31, 2007; 43 cases were enrolled and rhinovirus was the most frequently detected pathogen, with 21 (49%) positive. Rhinovirus cases frequently were young (median age, 1.4 years [range, 44 days–15 years]), hospitalized for pneumonia (10; 48%), had chronic underlying illnesses (15; 71%), had abnormal chest radiographs (18; 86%), required mechanical ventilation (12; 57%), and had prolonged hospitalization (median length, 7 days [range, 1–29 days]). Coinfection with other viruses or bacteria was common (10; 47%). Rhinovirus may be associated with more severe LRTI in children than previously reported, particularly in the noninfluenza, nonrespiratory syncytial virus season.

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