Epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus infection requiring hospitalization in East Denmark

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Abstract

Background.

Prophylaxis against infection caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with high titered RSV immunoglobulin or humanized antibody may soon be available in Europe.

Objective.

To study the epidemiology of RSV infections requiring hospitalization in infants <6 months in East Denmark to provide a rational basis for decisions concerning prophylaxis against RSV.

Method.

Population-based retrospective review of case records of infants <6 months admitted to pediatric departments with RSV infection in East Denmark from November 1, 1995, to April 30, 1996.

Results.

Data were obtained from 459 infants. Seventy-three had predisposing conditions: prematurity, 49; pulmonary disease, 2; congenital heart disease, 7; neurologic disease, 6; others, 9. One preterm infant had bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The incidence of RSV infection requiring hospitalization in East Denmark among infants <6 months was estimated to be 34/1000/season. It was 32/1000/season among term infants and 66/1000/season among preterm infants (P < 0.001). Infants with predisposing conditions and/or nosocomial infection (n = 24) had significantly more severe courses than otherwise healthy infants (P < 0.01). One-hundred thirty infants received respiratory support by nasal continuous positive airway pressure, but only six required mechanical ventilation. No infants died.

Conclusion.

The course of RSV disease in East Denmark was milder than reported elsewhere, possibly as a result of the low prevalence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in Denmark. However, RSV constitutes a considerable burden to the Danish pediatric health care system, and therefore prophylaxis against RSV is desirable.

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