Respiratory syncytial virus infection and immunoprophylaxis for selected high-risk children in Central Australia

Aust J Rural Health. 2005 Oct;13(5):265-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2005.00715.x.


Background: There are limited data on the epidemiology and viral aetiology of bronchiolitis in Central Australia and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunoprophylaxis in an Australian population.

Objective: To (i) determine the incidence and the viral aetiology of bronchiolitis hospitalisations and (ii) report on the usage of RSV immunoprophylaxis in selected high-risk infants and children in Central Australia.

Methodology: A retrospective review was performed of all hospital separations for bronchiolitis for a three-year period, 1998-2000. Respiratory viruses in the nasopharyngeal aspirates were identified from the cases in the year 2000. A combined retrospective chart review and prospective follow up study was undertaken of all the infants and children who received RSV immunoprophylaxis at the Alice Springs Hospital, Central Australia.

Results: Incidence of bronchiolitis hospitalisation in infants for 1998, 1999 and 2000 were 176, 200 and 180 per 1000, respectively. Nine high-risk children had RSV immunoprophylaxis on a total of 46 occasions and there were two mild RSV-related illnesses in them. None had severe lower respiratory tract illness.

Conclusion: The incidence of bronchiolitis in Central Australia is extremely high. The usage of RSV immunoprophylaxis may be justified in selected high-risk children living in high endemic areas.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bronchiolitis / epidemiology
  • Bronchiolitis / virology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endemic Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Endemic Diseases / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Immunization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Selection
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons