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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2003 Jul;67(7):801-6.

Role of respiratory viruses in children with acute otitis media.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Japanese Red Cross Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan



The role of viral infection in acute otitis media (AOM) has not been fully elucidated. We determined the presence of various respiratory viruses in middle ear fluid (MEF) specimens from children with AOM in order to determine whether viral infection or combined effects of viral and bacterial infection enhance or prolong the inflammation in the middle ear, thus worsening clinical outcome.


Multiplex nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions was carried out to detect influenza A and B viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) types A and B, parainfluenza virus types 1, 2, and 3; rhinovirus; and adenovirus in 93 MEF specimens from 79 children with AOM. And we examined whether viral infection with or without an identifiable bacterial infection affect clinical outcomes in AOM. We considered persistent MEF (fluid accumulation in the middle ear persisting up to 1 month after treatment), early recurrence of AOM (within 1 month after initial improvement), and recurrent AOM (more than three recurrences during 6 months of follow up) as indicators for evaluating clinical outcomes.


One or more respiratory viruses were detected in 39 specimens (42%); a total of 42 viral infections identified (three specimens were infected by two viruses). Of the 42 infections, RSV type A was detected in 29, adenovirus in eight, rhinovirus in three, and influenza virus in two. RSV accounted for 73% of viral detections. In children younger than 2 years, RSV infection combined with Streptococcus pneumoniae or Hemophilus influenzae infection carried a higher risk for persistent middle ear effusion than infection with RSV infection alone or those bacterial infection alone.


Accordingly, vaccination of young children against RSV as well as S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae is important in improving the prognosis in AOM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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