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Acad Emerg Med. 2008 Feb;15(2):111-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2007.00034.x.

Prospective multicenter study of the viral etiology of bronchiolitis in the emergency department.

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Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



To determine the viral etiology of bronchiolitis and clinical characteristics of children age < 2 years presenting to the emergency department (ED) with bronchiolitis.


The authors conducted a 14-center prospective cohort study during 2005-2006 of ED patients age < 2 years with bronchiolitis. The study was conducted in 10 states as part of the Emergency Medicine Network. Researchers collected nasopharyngeal aspirates and conducted structured interviews, medical record reviews, and 2-week follow-up telephone calls. Samples were tested using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus (RV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV), and influenza viruses (Flu).


Testing of 277 samples revealed 176 (64%) positive for RSV, 44 (16%) for RV, 26 (9%) for hMPV, 17 (6%) for Flu A, and none for Flu B. When children were categorized as RSV only, RV only, RV and RSV, and all others (hMPV, Flu, no identified virus), children with RV only were more likely to be African American (19, 62, 14, and 40%, respectively; p < 0.001) and have a history of wheezing (23, 52, 21, and 15%, respectively; p = 0.01). In multivariate models, children with RV were more likely to receive corticosteroids (odds ratio [OR] 3.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5 to 8.15). The duration of illness may be shorter for children with RV (Days 8, 3, 6, and 8; p = 0.07).


In this multicenter study, RSV was the most frequent cause of bronchiolitis (64%). RV was present in 16%, and these children have a distinct profile in terms of demographics, medical history, and ED treatment.

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