The incidence of nosocomial viral respiratory infections (NVRI) in neonates and children hospitalized in paediatric and neonatal intensive care units (PNICU) is unknown. Human coronaviruses (HCoV) have been implicated in NVRI in hospitalized preterm neonates. The objectives of this study were to determine the incidence of HCoV-related NVRI in neonates and children hospitalized in a PNICU and the prevalence of viral respiratory tract infections in staff. All neonates (age< or =28 days) and children (age>28 days) hospitalized between November 1997 and April 1998 were included. Nasal samples were obtained by cytological brush at admission and weekly thereafter. Nasal samples were taken monthly from staff. Virological studies were performed, using indirect immunofluorescence, for HCoV strains 229E and OC43, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus types A and B, paramyxoviruses types 1, 2 and 3 and adenovirus. A total of 120 patients were enrolled (64 neonates and 56 children). Twenty-two samples from 20 patients were positive (incidence 16.7%). In neonates, seven positive samples, all for HCoV, were detected (incidence 11%). Risk factors for NVRI in neonates were: duration of hospitalization, antibiotic treatment and duration of parenteral nutrition (P<0.01). Monthly prevalence of viral infections in staff was between 0% and 10.5%, mainly with HCoV. In children, 15 samples were positive in 13 children at admission (seven RSV, five influenza and three adenovirus) but no NVRI were observed. In spite of a high rate of community-acquired infection in hospitalized children, the incidence of NVRI with common respiratory viruses appears low in neonates, HCoV being the most important pathogen of NRVI in neonates during this study period. Further research is needed to evaluate the long-term impact on pulmonary function.
Copyright 2002 The Hospital Infection Society.