Background: The role of respiratory viruses in the etiology of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is still debated. The advent of molecular assays has improved the identification of viruses in patients with CAP and according to published studies, viruses account for 11-55% of adult CAP cases.
Objectives and study design: In the present study, the frequency of respiratory viruses was evaluated in respiratory samples collected from 414 patients with CAP admitted to 26 ICUs in the Lombardy Region (10 million inhabitants) during seven winter-spring seasons (2009-2016).
Results: In 226 (54.6%) patients one or more respiratory viruses were identified, while 188 (45.4%) patients were negative. A single virus infection was observed in 214/226 (94.7%) patients; while, in 12/226 (5.3%) at least two respiratory viruses were detected. Influenza A was the most common virus in 140/226 patients (61.9%) followed by rhinoviruses (33/226, 14.6%), respiratory syncytial virus (13/226, 5.8%), influenza B virus (9/226, 4.0%), human coronaviruses (9/226, 4.0%), cytomegalovirus (9/226, 4.0%) and human metapneumovirus (1/226, 0.4%).
Conclusions: Viral infections are present in a consistent proportion of patients admitted to the ICU for CAP. Influenza A and rhinovirus accounted for three-quarters of all CAP in ICU patients. The use of lower respiratory instead of upper respiratory samples might be useful in the diagnosis of viral CAP.
Keywords: CAP; lower respiratory tract infection; molecular diagnostic; respiratory infection; respiratory viruses.
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