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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2008 Jul;14(7):677-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2008.02016.x.

Role of respiratory pathogens in infants hospitalized for a first episode of wheezing and their impact on recurrences.

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1
Institute of Paediatrics, University of Milan, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy.

Abstract

In order to evaluate the infectious agents associated with the first episode of severe acute wheezing in otherwise healthy infants and to define the role of each of them in recurrences, 85 patients in Italy, aged <12 months, hospitalized because of a first acute episode of wheezing, were prospectively enrolled between 1 October 2005 and 31 March 2006. Upon enrollment, nasopharyngeal swabs were collected for the real-time PCR detection of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) types A and B, influenza virus types A and B, adenovirus, parainfluenza viruses types 1, 2, 3 and 4, rhinovirus, human metapneumovirus, human coronavirus types 229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1, bocavirus, enterovirus, and paraechovirus; nasopharyngeal aspirates were also obtained to detect atypical bacteria. At least one infectious agent was identified in 76 children (89.4%). RSV was the most frequently detected pathogen and its prevalence was significantly higher than that of the other pathogens in both age groups, and significantly higher in the children aged 3-12 months than in those aged <3 months. Only the children with RSV infection experienced recurrent wheezing. Viral load was significantly higher in children with than in those without recurrent wheezing. This study shows that RSV is the main reason for hospitalization during the first wheezing episode in infants, and that it appears to be the only pathogen associated with a high frequency of recurrences. A high viral load seems to be strictly related to the likelihood of recurrence.

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