An outbreak of coronavirus OC43 respiratory infection in Normandy, France

Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Apr 15;36(8):985-9. doi: 10.1086/374222. Epub 2003 Apr 4.


The 2 groups of human coronaviruses (HCoVs) represented by the prototype strains HCoV 229E and HCoV OC43 are mostly known as viruses responsible for common cold syndrome. HCoVs are difficult to detect, and epidemiological data are rare. From October 2000 through April 2001, we tested 1803 respiratory samples for HCoV by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. From 8 February through 27 March 2001, HCoV OC43 was detected in samples obtained from 30 (6%) of 501 patients. The other viruses detected were respiratory syncytial virus (6.1%), parainfluenza virus 3 (1%), influenza virus A (7.8%), influenza virus B (7.2%), rhinovirus (6.4%), enterovirus (1%), and adenovirus (2%). Infection with HCoV OC43 was detected in patients of all age groups. The following clinical symptoms were noted: fever (in 59.8% of patients), general symptoms (in 30%), digestive problems (in 56.8%), rhinitis (in 36.6%), pharyngitis (in 30%), laryngitis (in 3.3%), otitis (in 13.3%), bronchitis (in 16.6%), bronchiolitis (in 10%), and pneumonia (in 6.6%). This study shows that an outbreak of HCoV OC43 respiratory infection was responsible for the lower respiratory tract symptoms observed in nearly one-third of patients identified by active surveillance for coronavirus infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronavirus / classification*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology