Prevalence and Clinical Outcomes of Respiratory Syncytial Virus vs Influenza in Adults Hospitalized With Acute Respiratory Illness From a Prospective Multicenter Study

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Jun 8;76(11):1980-1988. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad031.


Background: Current understanding of severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in adults is limited by clinical underrecognition. We compared the prevalence, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of RSV infections vs influenza in adults hospitalized with acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) in a prospective national surveillance network.

Methods: Hospitalized adults who met a standardized ARI case definition were prospectively enrolled across 3 respiratory seasons from hospitals participating across all sites of the US Hospitalized Adult Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network (2016-2019). All participants were tested for RSV and influenza using real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test associations between laboratory-confirmed infection and characteristics and clinical outcomes.

Results: Among 10 311 hospitalized adults, 6% tested positive for RSV (n = 622), 18.8% for influenza (n = 1940), and 75.1% negative for RSV and influenza (n = 7749). Congestive heart failure (CHF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was more frequent with RSV than influenza (CHF: 37.3% vs 28.8%, P < .0001; COPD: 47.6% vs 35.8%, P < .0001). Patients with RSV more frequently had longer admissions (odds ratio [OR], 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.80) for stays >1 week) and mechanical ventilation (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.09-1.93) compared with influenza but not compared with the influenza-negative group (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, .82-1.28 and OR, 1.17; 95% CI, .91-1.49, respectively).

Conclusions: The prevalence of RSV across 3 seasons was considerable. Our findings suggest that those with RSV have worse outcomes compared with influenza and frequently have cardiopulmonary conditions. This study informs future vaccination strategies and underscores a need for RSV surveillance among adults with severe ARI.

Keywords: adults; hospitalization; influenza; respiratory syncytial virus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Heart Failure* / complications
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human* / complications
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / complications
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / complications
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology