Viral Respiratory Infections of Adults in the Intensive Care Unit

J Intensive Care Med. 2016 Aug;31(7):427-41. doi: 10.1177/0885066615585944. Epub 2015 May 19.


Viral lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are an underappreciated cause of critical illness in adults. Recent advances in viral detection techniques over the past decade have demonstrated viral LRTIs are associated with rates of morbidity, mortality, and health care utilization comparable to those of seen with bacterial community acquired and nosocomial pneumonias. In this review, we describe the relationship between viral LRTIs and critical illness, as well as discuss relevant clinical features and management strategies for the more prevalent respiratory viral pathogens.

Keywords: MERS; SARS; adenovirus; community acquired pneumonia; coronavirus; hospital acquired pneumonia; human metapneumovirus; influenza; intensive care unit; parainfluenza; respiratory syncytial virus; rhinovirus; viral respiratory infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / prevention & control
  • Community-Acquired Infections / virology*
  • Critical Care* / organization & administration
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units* / organization & administration
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers