Prevalence of respiratory viruses, including newly identified viruses, in hospitalised children in Austria

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The aim of this epidemiological study was to determine the prevalence of respiratory viruses, including new viruses, in hospitalised children in Austria. Two hundred fourteen nasopharyngeal samples from hospitalised children were tested for the presence of viruses using cell culture and PCR and/or viral antigen assays. The results revealed a parainfluenza virus 1 (PIV1) outbreak that ended right before the onset of the influenza season, with nearly no overlapping, moderate respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity, and only a few adenoviruses. Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) was present in 14.5% of the total samples but was detected in combination with other viruses in only five cases: with PIV1 in three cases and with RSV in two cases. There were no cases of dual infection with hMPV and flu or adenovirus. This suggests that hMPV alone is a leading cause of hospitalisation in children under 1 year of age. Interestingly, hMPV, in contrast to RSV, coincided with PIV1 but was absent during the community outbreak of the flu. Samples were also tested for Mimiviridae, a group of newly described DNA viruses that are similar to Legionella spp., replicate in water amoebae, and also have been found in alveolar cells. However, mimivirus was detected neither in respiratory samples nor in amoebae-containing water samples, indicating that this particular type of virus is either not abundant or does not contribute to paediatric respiratory illnesses.

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