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Use of a multiplex PCR/RT-PCR approach to assess the viral causes of influenza-like illnesses in Cambodia during three consecutive dry seasons

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Abstract

Acute respiratory infections are a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Using multiplex PCR/RT-PCR methods for the detection of 18 respiratory viruses, the circulation of those viruses during 3 consecutive dry seasons in Cambodia was described. Among 234 patients who presented with influenza-like illness, 35.5% were positive for at least one virus. Rhinoviruses (43.4%), parainfluenza (31.3%) viruses and coronaviruses (21.7%) were the most frequently detected viruses. Influenza A virus, parainfluenza virus 4 and SARS-coronavirus were not detected during the study period. Ninety apparently healthy individuals were included as controls and 10% of these samples tested positive for one or more respiratory viruses. No significant differences were observed in frequency and in virus copy numbers for rhinovirus detection between symptomatic and asymptomatic groups. This study raises questions about the significance of the detection of some respiratory viruses, especially using highly sensitive methods, given their presence in apparently healthy individuals. The link between the presence of the virus and the origin of the illness is therefore unclear. J. Med. Virol. 82:1762–1772, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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