Early ribavarin treatment of bronchiolitis: effect on long-term respiratory morbidity

Chest. 2002 Sep;122(3):935-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.122.3.935.


Background: The mortality rate from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis has significantly reduced over the last decade. A major concern now is the long-term respiratory morbidity following RSV bronchiolitis.

Methods: In this prospective study, we randomly assigned 49 previously healthy infants with severe RSV bronchiolitis, early in the course of illness (< 5 days duration), to receive either conservative treatment (n = 21) or additional ribavirin treatment (n = 24). Both groups were closely matched for age and clinical characteristics.

Results: During a prospective, closely monitored, 1-year follow-up period, the group treated with ribavirin had significantly fewer episodes (2.7 +/- 2.3 episodes vs 6.4 +/- 4.2 episodes per patient per year) and reduced severity of reactive airway disease (0.08 episodes vs 1.09 episodes of moderate-to-severe illness per patient per year) and respiratory illness-related hospitalization (25 hospital days vs 90 hospital days per 100 patients per year).

Conclusions: Early ribavirin treatment of RSV bronchiolitis in previously healthy infants resulted in reduction of incidence and severity of reactive airway disease as well as respiratory illness-related hospitalization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / mortality
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects
  • Survival Rate


  • Ribavirin