Otitis and respiratory distress episodes following a respiratory syncytial virus infection

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2003 Oct;9(10):1006-10. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-0691.2003.00715.x.


Objective: To document, over two consecutive respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) seasons, the occurrence of acute otitis media (AOM) and recurrence of respiratory distress in children < 2 years of age hospitalized for respiratory distress.

Methods: Patients were examined during hospitalization and at 6 weeks and 6 months after discharge. RSV testing was performed on all patients, and hospitalized patients were evaluated daily for the occurrence of AOM.

Results: In total, 347 children were enrolled; 54.8% were RSV positive, and 45.2% were RSV negative. Children were most frequently diagnosed as having bronchiolitis (71.9%) or asthmatic bronchitis (17.9%); other diagnoses included pneumonia, laryngitis, and rhinitis. During hospitalization, AOM was diagnosed in 16.8% of RSV-positive versus 8.3% of RSV-negative children (P < 0.05). Six weeks after discharge, AOM was reported in 10.4% of RSV-positive as compared with 5.8% of RSV-negative patients. Six months later, AOM was reported in 2.9% of the RSV-positive and 7.6% of the RSV-negative patients. A second episode of acute respiratory distress, which either required (9) or did not require (35) hospitalization, occurred in 18.4% of the total population, with similar proportions of RSV-positive and RSV-negative children (17% versus 18.6%).

Conclusion: We conclude that RSV appears to be an important contributing factor for the occurrence of AOM in young children hospitalized with respiratory distress. The occurrence of a second episode of acute respiratory distress did not appear to correlate with the previous RSV infection, but longer-term follow-up is required.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / complications*
  • Otitis Media / virology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / growth & development*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology