Recent developments in molecular diagnostic tools have led to the easy and rapid detection of a large number of rhinovirus (HRV) strains. However, the lack of clinical and epidemiological data hampers the interpretation of these diagnostic findings. From October 2009 to January 2011, we conducted a prospective study in hospitalized children from whom samples were taken for the detection of respiratory viruses. Clinical, epidemiological and microbiological data from 644 patients with 904 disease episodes were collected. When HRV tested positive, strains were further characterized by sequencing the VP4/VP2 region of the HRV genome. HRV was the single respiratory virus detected in 254 disease episodes (28%). Overall, 99 different serotypes were detected (47% HRV-A, 12% HRV-B, 39% HRV-C). Patients with HRV had more underlying pulmonary illness compared with patients with no virus (p 0.01), or patients with another respiratory virus besides HRV (p 0.007). Furthermore, cough, shortness of breath and a need for oxygen were significantly more present in patients with HRV infection. Particularly, patients with HRV-B required extra oxygen. No respiratory symptom, except for oxygen need, was predictive of the presence of HRV. In 22% of HRV-positive disease episodes, HRV infection was hospital acquired. Phylogenetic analysis revealed several clusters of HRV; in more than 25% of these clusters epidemiological information was suggestive of transmission within specific wards. In conclusion, the detection of HRV may help in explaining respiratory illness, particular in patients with pulmonary co-morbidities. Identifying HRV provides opportunities for timely implementation of infection control measures to prevent intra-hospital transmission.
Keywords: Infection control; nosocomial transmission; respiratory infection; rhinovirus; sequence analysis.
© 2013 The Authors Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2013 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.