Pediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada Study of Respiratory Syncytial Virus-associated Deaths in Pediatric Patients in Canada, 2003-2013

Clin Infect Dis. 2019 Jan 1;68(1):113-119. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy413.


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children. Mortality rates in previously healthy children hospitalized with RSV are <0.5%, but up to 37% in patients with underlying medical conditions. The objective of this study was to characterize factors associated with deaths among children hospitalized with RSV infection in Canadian pediatric centers.

Methods: A retrospective case series of children aged ≤18 years with RSV-associated deaths at centers affiliated with the Pediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada from 2003–2013, inclusive, was performed [corrected]. Cases were identified using RSV-specific International Classification of Diseases codes to capture deaths where a diagnosis of RSV infection was present.

Results: Eleven centers reported 79 RSV-associated deaths. RSV was regarded as primarily responsible for death in 32 cases (40.5%). Median age at death was 11 months (range, <1 month to 16 years). Thirty-nine patients (49.4%) were male. Fourteen patients (17.7%) had no known risk factors for severe RSV infection. Healthcare-associated RSV infections (HAIs) accounted for 29 deaths (36.7%), with RSV judged to be the primary cause of death in 9 of these cases.

Conclusions: RSV-associated deaths were predominantly associated with chronic medical conditions and immunocompromised states among infants; however, 1 in 5 deaths occurred among patients with no known risk factors for severe RSV. Mortality associated with HAI accounted for over a third of cases. These findings highlight patient groups that should be targeted for RSV prevention strategies such as infection control practices, immunoprophylaxis, and future vaccination programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchiolitis / mortality
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis