Rationale: Human rhinovirus species C (HRV-C) is the most common cause of acute wheezing exacerbations in young children presenting to hospital, but its impact on subsequent respiratory illnesses has not been defined.
Objectives: To determine whether acute wheezing exacerbations due to HRV-C are associated with increased hospital attendances due to acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs).
Methods: Clinical information and nasal samples were collected prospectively from 197 children less than 5 years of age, presenting to hospital with an acute wheezing episode. Information on hospital attendances with an ARI before and after recruitment was subsequently obtained.
Measurements and main results: HRV was the most common virus identified at recruitment (n = 135 [68.5%]). From the 120 (88.9%) samples that underwent typing, HRV-C was the most common HRV species identified, present in 81 (67.5%) samples. Children with an HRV-related wheezing illness had an increased risk of readmission with an ARI (relative risk, 3.44; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-10.17; P = 0.03) compared with those infected with any other virus. HRV-C, compared with any other virus, was associated with an increased risk of a respiratory hospital admission before (49.4% vs. 27.3%, respectively; P = 0.004) and within 12 months (34.6% vs. 17.0%; P = 0.01) of recruitment. Risk for subsequent ARI admissions was further increased in atopic subjects (relative risk, 6.82; 95% confidence interval, 2.16-21.55; P = 0.001). Admission risks were not increased for other HRV species.
Conclusions: HRV-C-related wheezing illnesses were associated with an increased risk of prior and subsequent hospital respiratory admissions. These associations are consistent with HRV-C causing recurrent severe wheezing illnesses in children who are more susceptible to ARIs.