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J Infect Dis. 2004 Feb 15;189(4):706-10. Epub 2004 Feb 4.

Superiority of reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction to conventional viral culture in the diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infections in children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Strong Children's Research Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


We compared the rates of detection of respiratory viruses by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and by conventional viral culture in 668 combined nasal and throat samples from a prospective, multicenter, population-based study of acute respiratory tract infections among hospitalized children aged <5 years. RT-PCR increased the yield of viral identification by 2-fold, compared with that of culture alone. The increased sensitivity of viral detection by RT-PCR will yield better estimates of the population burden of viral respiratory infections.

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