The Molecular Epidemiology and Clinical Phylogenetics of Rhinoviruses Among Paediatric Cases in Sydney, Australia

Int J Infect Dis. 2021 Sep:110:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.06.046. Epub 2021 Jun 24.


Objectives: Rhinoviruses (RV) represent the most common aetiological agent of all acute respiratory tract infections across all age groups and a significant burden of disease among children. Recent studies have shown that RV-A and RV-C species are associated with increased disease severity. In order to better understand the potential associations between RV species and clinical features among paediatric cases, this study aimed to integrate genetic and epidemiological data using Bayesian phylogenetic methods.

Methods: Potential associations between RV species and subtypes, and clinical disease severity using a matched dataset of 52 RV isolates sampled from children (< 18 years) in Sydney, Australia, between 2006 and 2009 were uncovered using epidemiological and phylogenetic methods.

Results: It was found that RV-C was significantly more likely to be isolated from paediatric cases aged < 2 years compared with RV-A, although no significant differences in recorded symptoms were observed. Significant phylogenetic-trait associations between age and the VP4/VP2 capsid protein phylogeny suggest that age-specific variations in infectivity among subtypes may may be possible.

Conclusion: This study adds to the growing body of epidemiological evidence concerning RV. Improving surveillance and testing for RV, including routine whole genome sequencing, may improve understanding of the varied disease outcomes of RV species and subtypes. Future studies could aim to identify specific genetic markers associated with age-specific infectivity of RV, which could inform treatment practices and public health surveillance of RV.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Paediatric infections; Phylogenetics; Rhinoviruses.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Picornaviridae Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Rhinovirus / genetics