Background: Saffold virus (SAFV) is a newly discovered virus belonging to the genus Cardiovirus of the family Picornaviridae. Using molecular techniques, SAFV has been detected, although infrequently, in the stools of both healthy and diarrheic children and in respiratory specimens collected from children with respiratory disease. The epidemiology and pathogenicity of SAFV remain unclear.
Methods: Between July 2009 and October 2010, nasopharyngeal specimens were collected from children with acute respiratory infections. The collected samples were used to isolate respiratory viruses, including coxsackievirus, by cell culture and were tested for SAFV by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Results: SAFV genotype 2 (SAFV2) was detected in 54 (3.5%) of the 1525 children tested. SAFV2 detections showed an epidemic pattern for a 4-month period with a peak in October 2009. The median age of the SAFV2-positive children was 4 years (range: 7 months-16 years). Among the 35 SAFV2-positive children, excluding cases of viral coinfection, 13 (37.1%) had pharyngitis, 12 (34.3%) had tonsillitis, and 8 (22.8%) had herpangina. Bronchitis and gastroenteritis were detected in 1 case each. Fever (temperature, >38°C) was noted in 33 (94.3%) cases. The median duration of fever was 2 days (range: 1-3 days). Diarrhea was observed in 7 (20.0%) children, but watery and frequent diarrhea was not common. The age distribution and clinical diagnoses associated with SAFV2 infections were similar to those observed with coxsackievirus B4 infections, which detections showed an epidemic pattern during the study period.
Conclusion: SAFV2 is a cause of upper respiratory tract illness that exhibits a pathogenicity similar to that of coxsackievirus B.