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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 30;8(4):e62318. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062318. Print 2013.

High human bocavirus viral load is associated with disease severity in children under five years of age.

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Microbiology Laboratory, Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.


Human bocavirus (HBoV) is a parvovirus and detected worldwide in lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), but its pathogenic role in respiratory illness is still debatable due to high incidence of co-infection with other respiratory viruses. To determine the prevalence of HBoV infection in patients with LRTI in Shanghai and its correlation with disease severity, we performed a 3-year prospective study of HBoV in healthy controls, outpatients and inpatients under five years of age with X-ray diagnosed LRTIs. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were tested by PCR for common respiratory viruses and by real time PCR for HBoV subtypes 1-4. Nasopharyngeal swabs from healthy controls and serum samples and stools from inpatients were also tested for HBoV1-4 by real time PCR. Viral loads were determined by quantitative real time PCR in all HBoV positive samples. HBoV1 was detected in 7.0% of inpatients, with annual rates of 5.1%, 8.0% and 4.8% in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) subtype A was the most frequent co-infection detected; HBoV1 and RSVA appeared to co-circulate with similar seasonal variations. High HBoV viral loads (>10(6) copies/ml) were significantly more frequent in inpatients and outpatients than in healthy controls. There was a direct correlation of high viral load with increasing disease severity in patients co-infected with HBoV1 and at least one other respiratory virus. In summary, our data suggest that HBoV1 can cause LRTIs, but symptomatic HBoV infection is only observed in the context of high viral load.

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