PCR for detection of respiratory viruses: seasonal variations of virus infections

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 Aug;9(8):615-26. doi: 10.1586/eri.11.75.


Real-time PCR and related methods have revolutionized the laboratory diagnosis of viral respiratory infections because of their high detection sensitivity, rapidness and potential for simultaneous detection of 15 or more respiratory agents. Results from studies with this diagnostic modality have significantly expanded our knowledge about the seasonality of viral respiratory diseases, pinpointed the difficulties to make a reliable etiologic diagnosis without the aid of an unbiased multiplex molecular assay for respiratory viruses, and revealed previously unknown details as to possible infections with multiple agents as aggravating factors. The scope of this article is to review and discuss this new knowledge and its implications for diagnostic strategies and other measures essential for the clinical management of respiratory viral infections and for epidemiological surveillance of seasonal respiratory infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coinfection / diagnosis*
  • Coinfection / virology
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Seasons
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral