Human rhinoviruses (HRV) frequently cause acute respiratory infections and chronic respiratory disease exacerbations. However, testing is not generally offered. We developed a modified HRV quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay to assess viral loads in the community and hospital patients. The assay had a lower limit of detection of 2 log(10) viral copies/mL and displayed linearity over 5 log(10) viral copies, with a lower limit of quantitation of 4 log(10) viral copies/mL. Mean viral loads (95% confidence interval) for hospitalized children, university students, and institutionalized elderly, were 7.08 log(10) viral copies/mL (6.7-7.5), 6.87 log(10) viral copies/mL (6.5-7.2), and 7.09 log(10) viral copies/mL (6.9-7.3), respectively (P = 0.67). Serial specimens of 14 university students showed a decrease of mean viral loads from 6.36 log(10) viral copies/mL on day 1 to 2.32 log(10) viral copies/mL 7 days past symptom onset (P < 0.001). Using an HRV qPCR, we showed that viral loads did not differ between the community and hospitalized populations and significantly decreased following symptoms onset in healthy individuals.
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