New human coronavirus, HCoV-NL63, associated with severe lower respiratory tract disease in Australia

Authors

  • Katherine E. Arden,

    1. Clinical Virology and Molecular Microbiology Research Units, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Queensland, Australia
    2. Clinical and Medical Virology Centre, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
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  • Michael D. Nissen,

    1. Clinical Virology and Molecular Microbiology Research Units, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Queensland, Australia
    2. Clinical and Medical Virology Centre, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
    3. Division of Microbiology, Queensland Health Pathology Service, Royal Brisbane Hospitals Campus, Queensland, Australia
    4. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Children's Hospitals, Queensland, Australia
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  • Theo P. Sloots,

    1. Clinical Virology and Molecular Microbiology Research Units, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Queensland, Australia
    2. Clinical and Medical Virology Centre, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
    3. Division of Microbiology, Queensland Health Pathology Service, Royal Brisbane Hospitals Campus, Queensland, Australia
    4. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Children's Hospitals, Queensland, Australia
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  • Ian M. Mackay

    Corresponding author
    1. Clinical Virology and Molecular Microbiology Research Units, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Queensland, Australia
    2. Clinical and Medical Virology Centre, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
    • Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre and Clinical Medical Virology Centre, Royal Children's Hospital and University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia.
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Abstract

A new human coronavirus, HCoV-NL63, was associated recently with bronchiolitis. The current study aimed to examine retrospectively stored specimens for the presence of HCoV-NL63 using nested RT-PCR assays targeting the 1a and 1b genes. The study population was composed of patients with acute respiratory disease warranting presentation to Queensland hospitals. HCoV-NL63 was detected in the nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPA) of 16 of 840 specimens representing 766 patients (2%). HCoV-NL63 positive individuals were diagnosed most commonly with lower respiratory tract (LRT) disease (81%). The clinical diagnosis was commonly supported by an abnormal chest X-ray (56%) together with respiratory distress (50%), wheeze (44%), and râles (25%) on first presentation with HCoV-NL63 infection. All patients positive for HCoV-NL63 required admission to hospital. Among 38% of HCoV-NL63 positive specimens a second pathogen was detected. Sequencing of amplicon from gene 1b revealed more than 99% nucleotide homology with the viral type strains while sequencing amplicon from gene 1a permitted the grouping of viral strains. It was shown that HCoV-NL63 is associated with severe LRT disease in an Australian hospital setting during the cooler months of the year. We propose that HCoV-NL63 is a global and seasonal pathogen of both children and adults associated with severe LRT illness. J. Med. Virol. 75:455–462, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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