Factors associated with symptomatic rhinovirus infection in patients with COPD

J Clin Virol. 2012 Dec;55(4):343-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2012.08.020. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Background: Human rhinoviruses (HRV) can be detected by RT-PCR in a large proportion of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) but can also be detected in COPD patients without symptoms.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to compare host, virologic and environmental factors associated with symptomatic and asymptomatic HRV infection.

Study design: One hundred twenty-seven patients with COPD were evaluated every 2 months routinely and for all respiratory illnesses during a one year period. RT-PCR testing for HRV was performed on nasal and sputum samples. Amplification products were sequenced to assign species HRV-A, B or C. Clinical, virologic and environmental factors were compared for those infected with HRV compared to those without HRV infection as well as symptomatic HRV infection and asymptomatic HRV infection.

Results: HRVs were detected in 29 participants during 20 illnesses and 11 routine visits. HRV was detected in nasal samples from 15/102 (14.7%) illnesses compared to 2/685 (0.4%) routine visits (p<.0001). Sputum samples were also more frequently positive from illnesses than routine visits [14/72 (19.4%) vs. 16/310 (5.2%) p<.0001]. Contact with school age children was the only factor that was significantly associated with HRV infection and symptomatic HRV illness. Severity of underlying lung disease and virologic factors were not associated with symptomatic illness.

Conclusions: Contact with school aged children is a risk factor for both infection and symptomatic HRV illness. Attention to good hand hygiene and avoidance of direct contact with ill children may help patients with COPD avoid HRV related illness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nasal Mucosa / virology
  • Phylogeny
  • Picornaviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Picornaviridae Infections / virology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rhinovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sputum / virology