Role of Viral Molecular Panels in Diagnosing the Etiology of Fever in Infants Younger Than 3 Months

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2020 Jan;59(1):45-52. doi: 10.1177/0009922819884582. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


As infants with proven viral infection present lower risk of bacterial infection, we evaluated how molecular methods detecting viruses on respiratory secretions could contribute to etiological diagnostic of these febrile episodes. From November 2010 to May 2011, we enrolled all febrile infants <90 days presenting to emergency room. Standard workup included viral rapid antigenic test and viral culture on nasopharyngeal aspirate. Samples negative by rapid testing were tested by molecular methods. From 208 febrile episodes (198 infants) with standard techniques, rate of documented microbiological etiology was 13% at emergency department, 47% during hospitalization, and 64% with viral cultures. Molecular methods increased microbiologically documented etiology rate by 12%, to 76%. Contribution of molecular methods was the highest in infants without clinical source of infection, increasing documentation by 18%, from 50% to 68%. Making viral molecular results rapidly available could help identifying a higher proportion of infants at low risk of serious bacterial infection.

Keywords: etiology; fever under 3 months; respiratory virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Female
  • Fever / virology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques*
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*