• Open Access

Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are the major respiratory viruses detected from prospective testing of pediatric and adult coronial autopsies

Authors

  • David J. Speers,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia
    2. School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
    • Correspondence: David J. Speers, Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Hospital Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.

      E-mail: david.speers@health.wa.gov.au

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  • Daniel M. Moss,

    1. Department of Forensic Pathology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia
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  • Cara Minney-Smith,

    1. Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia
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  • Avram Levy,

    1. Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia
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  • David W. Smith

    1. Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia
    2. School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
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  • All work has been carried out at PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre.

Abstract

Background

To ascertain the full mortality of influenza and other respiratory viruses, the testing of community autopsy specimens is essential.

Methods

Respiratory virus PCR and culture were performed on 2418 fresh unfrozen respiratory samples collected from 1611 coronial cases where the death was either unknown or infection was suspected, from July 2007 to June 2011, to detect the common respiratory viruses in children and adults, using standardized microbiological testing.

Results

The respiratory virus positive rate was 8·3% (134 cases) with a peak of 28% (42 of 151 cases) in children under 10 years of age. Influenza virus was the commonest respiratory virus (50 cases, 3%), followed by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (30 cases, 2%). All tested respiratory viruses were found in children, most commonly adenovirus, enterovirus and RSV, and influenza A and RSV predominated in those over 60 years, but coinfection was uncommon. Almost all influenza cases occurred when influenza was widely circulating in the community but few were diagnosed pre-mortem. Influenza and RSV detection was associated with bronchitis or bronchiolitis in 7 (9%) of the 80 cases and caused pneumonia in 14 (0·8%) deaths overall.

Conclusions

Our prospective review of respiratory viruses using standardized testing found a single lower respiratory tract autopsy specimen for respiratory virus PCR would detect most community infections at the time of death.

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