Detection and typing by molecular techniques of respiratory viruses in children hospitalized for acute respiratory infection in Rome, Italy

J Med Virol. 2007 Apr;79(4):463-8. doi: 10.1002/jmv.20832.


Detection of a broad number of respiratory viruses is not undertaken currently for the diagnosis of acute respiratory infection due to the large and always increasing list of pathogens involved. A 1-year study was undertaken on children hospitalized consecutively for acute respiratory infection in a Pediatric Department in Rome to characterize the viruses involved. Two hundred twenty-seven children were enrolled in the study with a diagnosis of asthma, bronchiolitis, bronchopneumonia, or laringo-tracheo bronchitis. A molecular approach was adopted using specific reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assays detecting 13 respiratory viruses including metapneumovirus (hMPV) and the novel coronaviruses NL63 and HKU1; most amplified fragments were sequenced to confirm positive results and differentiate the strain. Viral pathogens were detected in 97 samples (42.7%), with 4.8% of dual infections identified; respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was detected in 17.2% of children, followed by rhinovirus (9.7%), parainfluenza virus type 3 (PIV3) (7.5%), and influenza type A (4.4%). Interestingly, more than half the patients (9/17) that have rhinovirus as the sole respiratory pathogen had pneumonia. HMPV infected children below 3 years in two peaks in March and June causing bronchiolitis and pneumonia. One case of NL63 infection is described, documenting NL63 circulation in central Italy. In conclusion, the use of a comprehensive number of PCR-based tests is recommended to define the burden of viral pathogens in patients with respiratory tract infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronavirus / isolation & purification
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • DNA Viruses / classification
  • DNA Viruses / genetics
  • DNA Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Italy
  • Metapneumovirus / genetics
  • Metapneumovirus / isolation & purification
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Picornaviridae Infections / complications
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • RNA Viruses / classification
  • RNA Viruses / genetics
  • RNA Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Rhinovirus / genetics
  • Rhinovirus / isolation & purification
  • Species Specificity
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / virology


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral