A rhinovirus outbreak among residents of a long-term care facility

Ann Intern Med. 1995 Oct 15;123(8):588-93. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-123-8-199510150-00004.


Objective: To describe the epidemiology of and clinical findings associated with a rhinovirus outbreak that occurred among institutionalized elderly persons.

Design: Retrospective review of medical records and nursing surveillance reports.

Setting: A 685-bed, long-term care facility for veterans and their spouses.

Patients: 33 persons from whom rhinovirus was cultured.

Measurements: Throat and nasopharyngeal virus culture; review of medical records to determine underlying diseases, signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, illness duration, and interventions during illness; and review of nursing surveillance reports to determine room locations of ill persons.

Results: Between 14 August and 2 September 1993, the number of respiratory illnesses increased. Throat and nasopharyngeal virus cultures were taken from 67 ill residents; 33 cultures yielded rhinovirus, and no other respiratory virus was isolated. Geographic clustering of persons infected with rhinovirus was observed. Of those persons with rhinovirus infections, 100% had upper respiratory symptoms, 34% had gastrointestinal symptoms, 71% had systemic symptoms, 66% had lower respiratory symptoms (including productive cough), and 52% had new abnormalities on lung auscultation. The 17 persons with rhinovirus infection who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had more severe illnesses: Five (29%) required glucocorticoid or bronchodilator therapy for illness-associated bronchospasm; 2 required transfer out of the facility; 1 developed a radiographically documented infiltrate; and 1 died of respiratory failure.

Conclusions: Rhinovirus may cause epidemic, clinically important respiratory illness in nursing homes residents. A large proportion of residents may become ill, and infection may be severe in persons with underlying lung disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / complications
  • Picornaviridae Infections / complications
  • Picornaviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhinovirus*
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology