Epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in hospitalized infants in Greece

Eur J Epidemiol. 2003;18(1):55-61. doi: 10.1023/a:1022556215190.


New therapies have been introduced for the prophylaxis and treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in recent years. The aim of the study was to determine the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis in our area. All patients under 1 year of age admitted with acute bronchiolitis during four consecutive RSV seasons from February 1, 1997 to June 30, 2000 were enrolled in the study. The records of patients admitted during the first season were reviewed retrospectively while the rest were followed prospectively. A total of 636 infants with bronchiolitis were admitted and RSV infection was documented in 61% of those tested. Admission to intensive care unit (ICU) was required for 6.2% of them and was more common in premature infants (26%) (p < 0.001). Case fatality rate was 0.7% (overall 0.3%). RSV bronchiolitis accounted for about 12% of all infant admissions during the 5 months of the yearly outbreak. Patients with documented RSV infection had a more severe illness with a higher ICU admission rate (6 vs. 1%, p = 0.008) and longer duration of hospitalization (mean 6.3 vs. 5.3 days, p < 0.001) compared to those who tested negative. Although none of the patients had a positive blood culture on admission a considerable number of them (210/636, 33%) were treated with antibiotics. RSV infection has a significant impact on infant morbidity in our settings which is more serious among those born prematurely. Documentation of RSV infection may be a marker of more severe illness in infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis. Antibiotic use has to be restricted since the occurrence of a serious bacteraemic illness on admission is a very rare event.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / complications
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / diagnosis
  • Bronchiolitis, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / virology
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / isolation & purification
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Utilization Review


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents