Seasonal variation in respiratory syncytial virus chest infection in the tropics

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2002 Jul;34(1):47-51. doi: 10.1002/ppul.10095.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important cause of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in young children. We determined if there was a seasonal variation in Malaysia in the incidence of RSV infection in young children admitted with LRTI, and possible associations of RSV infection with local meteorological parameters. A total of 5,691 children, aged less than 24 months and hospitalized with LRTI (i.e., bronchiolitis and pneumonia) between 1982-1997, were included in this study. Nasopharyngeal samples were collected and examined for RSV by immunofluorescence, viral culture, or both. Seasonal variations were determined by analyzing the monthly RSV-positive isolation rate via time series analysis. Possible correlations with local meteorological parameters were also evaluated.RSV was isolated in 1,047 (18.4%) children. Seasonal variations in RSV infection rate were evident and peaked during the months of November, December, and January (test statistics [T] = 53.7, P < 0.001). This seasonal variation was evident for both bronchiolitis and pneumonia categories (T = 42.8 and 56.9, respectively, P < 0.001). The rate of RSV infection appeared to correlate with the monthly number of rain days (r = 0.26, P < 0.01), and inversely with the monthly mean temperature (r = -0.38, P < 0.001). In the tropics, seasonal variations in the incidence of RSV infection are evident, with an annual peak in November, December, and January. This information provides a guide for healthcare provisions and implementation of RSV prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses* / isolation & purification
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Seasons*
  • Tropical Climate