Objective: To determine the frequency and effects of nosocomial respiratory viral infections (RVIs) in premature neonates, including those who may be asymptomatic.
Study design: We performed a year-long surveillance for RVIs in infants <33 weeks gestational age admitted to 2 Syracuse neonatal intensive care units. Infants were enrolled within 3 days of neonatal intensive care unit admission and were sampled for RVIs until discharge using a multiplex polymerase chain reaction assay capable of detecting 17 different respiratory viruses or subtypes.
Results: Twenty-six of 50 prematurely born infants (52%) tested positive for a respiratory virus at least once during their birth hospitalization. Testing positive for a respiratory virus was significantly associated with longer length of stay (70 days vs 35 days, P = .002) and prolonged ventilatory support (51 vs 13 days, P = .002). Infants who tested positive for a respiratory virus during their birth hospitalization had more than twice the rate of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (P < .05).
Conclusion: Nosocomial RVIs were frequent in our study population, despite the absence of clinical indicators of illness. Length of hospital stay was significantly longer and a diagnosis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia was more common in infants who had respiratory viruses detected.
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