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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2002 Jul;34(1):47-51.

Seasonal variation in respiratory syncytial virus chest infection in the tropics.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, University Malaya Medical Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important cause of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in young children. We determined if there was a seasonal variation in Malaysia in the incidence of RSV infection in young children admitted with LRTI, and possible associations of RSV infection with local meteorological parameters. A total of 5,691 children, aged less than 24 months and hospitalized with LRTI (i.e., bronchiolitis and pneumonia) between 1982-1997, were included in this study. Nasopharyngeal samples were collected and examined for RSV by immunofluorescence, viral culture, or both. Seasonal variations were determined by analyzing the monthly RSV-positive isolation rate via time series analysis. Possible correlations with local meteorological parameters were also evaluated.RSV was isolated in 1,047 (18.4%) children. Seasonal variations in RSV infection rate were evident and peaked during the months of November, December, and January (test statistics [T] = 53.7, P < 0.001). This seasonal variation was evident for both bronchiolitis and pneumonia categories (T = 42.8 and 56.9, respectively, P < 0.001). The rate of RSV infection appeared to correlate with the monthly number of rain days (r = 0.26, P < 0.01), and inversely with the monthly mean temperature (r = -0.38, P < 0.001). In the tropics, seasonal variations in the incidence of RSV infection are evident, with an annual peak in November, December, and January. This information provides a guide for healthcare provisions and implementation of RSV prevention.

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