Concurrent serious bacterial infections in 2396 infants and children hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infections

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Apr;156(4):322-4. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.4.322.


Background: At Driscoll Children's Hospital (Corpus Christi, Tex), we observed that most infants and children hospitalized for treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and/or pneumonia received broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics despite having typical RSV signs and symptoms and positive RSV-rapid-antigen tests on admission. Physicians were concerned about the possibility of concurrent serious bacterial infections, especially in infants younger than 3 months and in those with infiltrates present on the chest x-ray films.

Objective: To report the frequency of concurrent serious bacterial infections in infants and children hospitalized for treatment of RSV lower respiratory tract infections.

Methods: The medical records of 2396 infants and children admitted to Driscoll Children's Hospital with RSV bronchiolitis and/or pneumonia during 7 RSV seasons from July 1, 1991, through June 30, 1998, were reviewed.

Results: There were positive cultures obtained from initial sepsis/meningitis workups on admission in 39 infants and children (1.6%). Of these, 12 (31%) were positive blood cultures and 27 (69%) were positive urine cultures. There were no positive cerebrospinal fluid cultures. All of the positive blood cultures contained either Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus warneri, or Bacillus species, which are common contaminants. None of the patients received a standard 10-day course of intravenous antibiotic therapy. All of the positive urine cultures were typical urinary tract pathogens. All of the patients were treated.

Conclusions: Concurrent serious bacterial infections are rare in infants and children hospitalized with RSV lower respiratory tract infections and the empiric use of broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics is unnecessary in children with typical signs and symptoms of RSV bronchiolitis.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bacillus / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bronchiolitis / microbiology
  • Bronchiolitis / virology
  • Child, Hospitalized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / complications
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / isolation & purification
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ribavirin