Correlation of viral load as determined by real-time RT-PCR and clinical characteristics of respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infections in early infancy

G Gerna, G Campanini, V Rognoni, A Marchi, F Rovida, A Piralla, E Percivalle
Journal of Clinical Virology 2008, 41 (1): 45-8

BACKGROUND: In infants hospitalized for a lower respiratory tract infection (RTI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the correlation between viral load (VL) and patient clinical characteristics remains to be defined.

OBJECTIVES: To define this correlation.

STUDY DESIGN: prospective study of 47 infants admitted to hospital in the period November 2006-May 2007 with a diagnosis of lower RTI. Nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPAs) were taken at admission, discharge, and at post-discharge control visits. VL was quantified by real-time RT-PCR for RSV subgroups A and B.

RESULTS: Patients with bronchiolitis were compared with young patients with lower RTI other than bronchiolitis. Patients with bronchiolitis had a significantly lower age than patients with other syndromes, and a significantly longer duration of symptoms. Duration of hospitalization was not different in the two groups of patients, and was not related to RSV subgroup or viral coinfection. A sustained decrease in VL was observed in the general patient population between admission, discharge and post-discharge follow-up visits.

CONCLUSIONS: (i) patients with bronchiolitis were significantly younger than patients with other lower RTIs; (ii) symptom duration was significantly longer in patients with bronchiolitis; (iii) RSV VL significantly decreased between admission and discharge.

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