Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important agent causing respiratory illness in the young paediatric age group.
Objective: To determine the clinical profile and risk factors for respiratory distress in young Malaysian children with RSV infection.
Method: The study was a retrospective review of 185 children below the age of 24 months hospitalised with RSV infection. Respiratory distress at admission was categorised into mild, moderate and severe using a modified respiratory distress assessment instrument (RDAI) score.
Results: RSV infection occurred most frequently in the 3-6 months age group with a male predominance. A small number of patients had extrapulmonary symptoms of diarrhoea (8%) and seizures (7%). Forty-seven patients (25%) had an underlying illness. The majority of patients (63%) had mild respiratory distress. All patients (8%) with severe respiratory distress required intensive care and 80% of them required assisted ventilation. The overall mean duration of hospital stay was 7.0 +/- 5.0 days. There was only one death. Risk factors associated with respiratory distress included age less than 3 months, a family history of bronchial asthma and presence of an underlying disease.
Conclusion: The majority of Malaysian children with RSV infection had a mild illness but a small number of them who developed severe illness had a higher incidence of respiratory failure requiring assisted ventilation.