Respiratory viruses in children with cystic fibrosis: viral detection and clinical findings

Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2012 May;6(3):218-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00292.x. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Background: Viral detection from different respiratory sample types in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) is facilitated by available molecular methods, but optimum sampling strategies have not been identified. In addition, associations between viral detection and respiratory symptoms are not well described.

Objectives: Study goals were to compare molecular detection of viruses from concurrent upper airway and sputum samples in children with CF and to describe relative frequency of respiratory viral infections and identify potential clinical associations.

Methods: We conducted a 2-year prospective surveillance study in 44 children with CF aged 6-18 years. Upper airway and sputum samples were collected quarterly and during pulmonary exacerbations and tested for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses types 1-4, human metapneumovirus, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, and adenoviruses. Physical exams and symptom surveys were used to identify respiratory signs and symptoms.

Results: Upper airway samples were collected at 359 visits; concordance of PCR-based viral detection was examined in a subset of paired upper airway and sputum samples from 21 participants at 92 visits. Rhinovirus was the most commonly detected virus (23·1% overall), and rhinovirus detection was the same for both sample types (21·7% each). Sensitivity and specificity for the detection of rhinovirus in sputum relative to upper airway sampling were 70% and 91·7%, respectively. Respiratory symptoms associated with rhinovirus detection included increased cough, increased nasal congestion, increased sputum production, and wheezing.

Conclusions: A relatively high frequency of rhinovirus detection was observed by either upper airway or sputum samples, and clinical findings suggest a significant-associated symptom burden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Sputum / virology
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*