Viral Etiology of Acute Respiratory Infections in Hospitalized and Outpatient Children in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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To determine and compare the viral frequency, seasonality and clinical-demographic features in 2 groups of children (hospitalized versus outpatients) with acute respiratory infections.

Material and Methods:

A cross-sectional, descriptive study was performed from 2008 to 2010 in 620 children <6 years of age with acute respiratory infection. Respiratory samples were studied for classical respiratory viruses by immunofluorescence and for human rhinoviruses (HRV) by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Clinical and demographic data were recorded.


Viral detection by immunofluorescence was 48% in 434 inpatients and 37% in 186 outpatients. Viral diagnosis increased to 83% and 62%, respectively, when testing for HRV. HRV (41%) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (27%) were most common viruses identified, followed by metapneumovirus (9%), influenza A and parainfluenza (3%), adenovirus and influenza B (2%). HRV frequency was significantly higher in hospitalized patients (47%) than in outpatients (27%) (P < 0.001). Coinfection was detected in 12% of hospitalized and 4% of outpatients (P < 0.031). HRV and adenovirus circulated throughout the entire year. RSV, influenza A and B predominated in winter, whereas metapneumovirus and parainfluenza predominated in spring. Of 362 patients with bronchiolitis, 84% had a virus identified; HRV (42%) and RSV (38%) were predominant. Of 77 patients with pneumonia, 84% had a virus detected with HRV (43%) and RSV (29%) predominating.


HRV were significant pathogens associated with bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in hospitalized patients. Both, HRV and coinfections, were risk factors for hospitalization. These findings support the importance of including HRV detection in children with acute respiratory infection.

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