Systematic review of respiratory viral pathogens identified in adults with community-acquired pneumonia in Europe

J Clin Virol. 2017 Oct:95:26-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2017.07.019. Epub 2017 Aug 5.


Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is an important respiratory disease and the fifth leading cause of mortality in Europe. The development of molecular diagnostic tests has highlighted the contributions of respiratory viruses to the aetiology of CAP, suggesting the incidence of viral pneumonia may have been previously underestimated. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to describe the overall identification of respiratory viruses in adult patients with CAP in Europe, following PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO; CRD42016037233). We searched EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, WHOLIS, COCHRANE library and grey literature sources for relevant studies, and screened these against protocol eligibility criteria. Two researchers performed data extraction and risk of bias assessments, independently, using a piloted form. Results were synthesised narratively, and random effects meta-analyses performed to calculate pooled estimates of effect; heterogeneity was quantified using I2. Twenty-eight studies met inclusion criteria of which 21 were included in the primary meta-analysis. The pooled proportion of patients with identified respiratory viruses was 22.0% (95% CI: 18.0%-27.0%), rising to 29.0% (25.0%-34.0%) in studies where polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics were performed. Influenza virus was the most frequently detected virus in 9% (7%-12%) of adults with CAP. Respiratory viruses make a substantial contribution to the aetiology of CAP in adult patients in Europe; one or more respiratory viruses are detected in about one quarter of all cases.

Keywords: Acquired; Aetiology; Community; Pathogen; Pneumonia; Virus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / etiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / virology*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Male
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification