Most wheezing episodes in infants are caused and exacerbated by virus-induced lower respiratory tract infections. However, there are few reports of epidemiologic and clinical virus-specific research with a focus on virus-induced wheezing. The purpose of the current study was to characterize the clinical presentation of virus-induced wheezing in pediatric patients <3 years of age who were hospitalized with lower respiratory tract infections. Of the 412 patients in the study, 216 were followed for 3 years. Nasopharyngeal aspirates collected from the patients at the time of admission were examined for the presence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus (RV), parainfluenza-3 virus (PIV-3), human metapneumovirus (hMPV), and influenza virus (Flu) using reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and rapid diagnostic tests. Clinical signs were assessed using a severity scoring system. In patients with wheezing at the time of admission, RSV, RV, RSV+RV, Flu, PIV-3, and hMPV were detected in 33, 14, 8, 8, 5, and 3 % of samples, respectively. There were no differences in age and severity scores between patients harboring more prevalent viruses (RSV and RV) and those with less common infections. Patients with wheezing and RV-positive aspirates at the time of admission were more likely to develop subsequent wheezing during the following 3 years.
Conclusion: RSV and RV infections are factors in the development and exacerbation of wheezing after virus-induced lower respiratory tract infections. Moreover, RV-induced wheezing may be associated with subsequent recurrent wheezing and the development of asthma.