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Arch Virol. 2014 Jan;159(1):65-72. doi: 10.1007/s00705-013-1794-4. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Seasonality and prevalence of respiratory pathogens detected by multiplex PCR at a tertiary care medical center.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University, 1120 15th St., Augusta, GA, 30912, USA,


Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are a leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Seasonality has been reported for many viruses, including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the recently described human metapneumovirus (hMPV). We hypothesize that the availability of rapid, multiplex PCR diagnostics will provide better clinical care and new insights into the etiology and clinical spectrum of RTIs. We conducted a retrospective analysis of the incidence of respiratory pathogens at a 500-bed adult and 154-bed pediatric hospital tertiary care center. A total of 939 specimens from patients with an age range of 5 days to 91 years (median, 2 years) were tested by a multiplex respiratory pathogen PCR from November 14, 2011 to November 13, 2012. Sixty-five percent of specimens were positive for at least one pathogen. As the age of the patient increased, the positivity rate for the PCR decreased proportionately. Rhinoviruses/enteroviruses (Rhino/Entero) were the most prevalent (34.3 %) followed by RSV (19.2 %) and hMPV (6.2 %). Twelve percent of the positive samples were positive for multiple analytes, with Rhino/Entero and RSV being the most common combination. The peak months were September and May for Rhino/Entero infections, January for RSV and February for coronavirus. hMPV peaked 2 months after RSV, as has been observed recently in other studies. Multiplex PCR provides rapid diagnostic information that can be used to make knowledgeable clinical decisions and potentially reduce the use of antibiotics. Active respiratory PCR surveillance could also predict seasonal respiratory epidemics to allow for adequate planning of additional infection control measures.

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