Rhinovirus and coronavirus infection-associated hospitalizations among older adults

J Infect Dis. 2002 May 1;185(9):1338-41. doi: 10.1086/339881. Epub 2002 Apr 16.


Rhinoviruses and coronaviruses are recognized as the major causes of the common cold syndrome. The role of these viruses in more serious respiratory illnesses resulting in hospitalization is less well defined. During a winter when influenza A infection was prevalent, 100 elderly adults hospitalized because of cardiopulmonary illnesses were evaluated for rhinovirus and coronavirus infection. Patients who tested negative for influenza or respiratory syncytial virus had nasal swab samples tested for rhinovirus, coronavirus OC43, and coronavirus 229E by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and for coronaviruses by serologic testing. Twelve percent of patients had rhinovirus or coronavirus identified (rhinovirus, 4 patients; coronavirus 229E, 4 patients; coronavirus OC43, 3 patients; and mixed rhinovirus/coronavirus 229E infection, 1 patient). All patients had significant underlying diseases. Although all patients recovered, the mean length of stay was 8 days; 4 persons had pneumonia, and 1 required ventilator support. These data suggest that rhinoviruses and coronaviruses may be associated with serious respiratory illnesses in frail older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Common Cold / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction