Respiratory Virus Co-infection in Acute Respiratory Infections in Children

Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2020 Jan 24;22(1):3. doi: 10.1007/s11908-020-0711-8.


Purpose of review: This investigation aims to understand the role and burden of viral co-infections for acute respiratory illnesses in children. Co-infection can be either viral-viral or viral-bacterial and with new technology there is more information on the role they play on the health of children.

Recent findings: With the proliferation of multiplex PCR for rapid diagnosis of multiple viruses as well as innovations on identification of bacterial infections, research has been attempting to discover how these co-infections affect each other and the host. Studies are aiming to discern if the epidemiology of viruses seen at a population level is related to the interaction between different viruses on a host level. Studies are also attempting to discover the burden of morbidity and mortality of these viral-viral co-infections on the pediatric population. It is also becoming important to understand the interplay of certain viruses with specific bacteria and understanding the impact of viral-bacterial co-infections. RSV continues to contribute to a large burden of disease for pediatric patients with acute respiratory illnesses. However, recent literature suggests that viral-viral co-infections do not add to this burden and might, in some cases, be protective of severe disease. Viral-bacterial co-infections, on the other hand, are most likely adding to the burden of morbidity in pediatric patients because of the synergistic way they can infect the nasopharyngeal space. Future research needs to focus on confirming these conclusions as it could affect hospital cohorting, role of molecular testing, and therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: PCR, viral interactions; Pediatric respiratory illness; RSV; Viral co-infections.

Publication types

  • Review