New developments in the epidemiology and clinical spectrum of rhinovirus infections

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to summarize the recent changes in our understanding of the epidemiology and clinical manifestations of rhinovirus infection that have occurred as a result of the improved diagnostic sensitivity provided by the reverse transcriptase PCR assays.

Recent findings

Rhinovirus infection is now recognized as an important cause of acute exacerbations of asthma in school-aged children. Along with other respiratory viruses, rhinovirus infection is also a cause of exacerbations of cystic fibrosis. There is evidence that rhinovirus can infect the lower airways and may be associated with bronchiolitis and pneumonia in immunocompetent children and with lower respiratory tract disease in the immunocompromised host.

Summary

The use of nucleic acid hybridization-based assays has expanded our understanding of the spectrum of clinical illness that is associated with rhinovirus infection. The prevalence of rhinovirus infection in children is high and presents a risk for coincidental detection of rhinovirus in the face of other infectious syndromes. The detection of rhinovirus from patients with new or unusual clinical syndromes does not permit the assumption that rhinovirus is playing a causal role in the illness.

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