The role of respiratory viruses in adult patients with cystic fibrosis receiving intravenous antibiotics for a pulmonary exacerbation

J Cyst Fibros. 2014 Jan;13(1):49-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jul 23.


Background: Respiratory viruses have become increasingly recognised as important agents in pulmonary exacerbations in infants and children with CF. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of respiratory viruses during acute pulmonary exacerbations in adults and compare the severity of these exacerbations with non-viral associated exacerbations.

Methods: This was a retrospective case control study. Viral throat swabs were taken from all patients presenting with an acute pulmonary exacerbation requiring intravenous antibiotic treatment over a 12 month period.

Results: There were 432 pulmonary exacerbations in 180 adults. A positive viral PCR in 42 exacerbations indicated a prevalence of 9.7%. The commonest virus isolated was rhinovirus (n = 29, 69%) with influenza A/H1N1 in seven patients (16.7%). Exacerbations associated with a positive viral PCR had a greater fall in lung function at presentation with higher levels of inflammatory markers. They received more days of intravenous antibiotics, showed less response to treatment and had a shorter time to next pulmonary exacerbation compared to matched controls.

Conclusion: Viral associated pulmonary exacerbations in adults with CF are associated with more severe pulmonary involvement and respond less well to standard treatment.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Polymerase chain reaction; Pulmonary exacerbation; Respiratory viruses; Rhinovirus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / virology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / isolation & purification
  • Influenza A virus / isolation & purification
  • Influenza B virus / isolation & purification
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Picornaviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Picornaviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhinovirus / isolation & purification
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents