Background: Viral upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) have been correlated with the onset of asthma attacks in children and viral identification was reported in 14-49 % of nasal samples. The aim of the present study was to detect influenza, parainfluenza, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in older children during acute asthma attacks.
Methods: A total of 104 children (2-14 years) were included in four groups: group I: asthmatics with acute attack and URTI; group II: asthmatics without URTI (group I children, 30 days later); group III: non-asthmatics with URTI; group IV: non-asthmatic, asymptomatic children. A diagnosis of URTI was considered when (3 symptoms (cough and/or sneeze, nasal obstruction, hypertrophy of turbinates, pain and/or retropharynx hyperemia, headache and fever) in asthmatics and at least 2 symptoms in non-asthmatics were present, starting within 7 days. Samples of nasal mucosa cells (n = 123) were collected, and culture and indirect immunofluorescence were carried out to identify respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, influenza A and B, parainfluenza 1,2 and 3 and rhinovirus.
Results: Viral identification rates were higher in the asthmatic groups: 13.9 % in group I, 11.1 % in group II; 2.8 % in group III and 0 in group IV. The following viruses were identified: RSV 2/36, rhinovirus 1/36, adenovirus 1/36 and parainfluenzae 1/36 in group I; adenovirus 2/18 in group II; RSV 1/36 in group III.
Conclusions: The rate of viral identification was higher in asthmatic children, whether symptomatic or not, suggesting a possible susceptibility to viral infections. Virus could also be a triggering factor in attacks, although it is not the most preponderant in older children.