• bronchiolitis;
  • Central Australia;
  • Palivizumab;


Background: There are limited data on the epidemiology and viral aetiology of bronchiolitis in Central Australia and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunoprophylaxis in an Australian population.

Objective: To (i) determine the incidence and the viral aetiology of bronchiolitis hospitalisations and (ii) report on the usage of RSV immunoprophylaxis in selected high-risk infants and children in Central Australia.

Methodology: A retrospective review was performed of all hospital separations for bronchiolitis for a three-year period, 1998–2000. Respiratory viruses in the nasopharyngeal aspirates were identified from the cases in the year 2000. A combined retrospective chart review and prospective follow up study was undertaken of all the infants and children who received RSV immunoprophylaxis at the Alice Springs Hospital, Central Australia.

Results: Incidence of bronchiolitis hospitalisation in infants for 1998, 1999 and 2000 were 176, 200 and 180 per 1000, respectively. Nine high-risk children had RSV immunoprophylaxis on a total of 46 occasions and there were two mild RSV-related illnesses in them. None had severe lower respiratory tract illness.

Conclusion: The incidence of bronchiolitis in Central Australia is extremely high. The usage of RSV immunoprophylaxis may be justified in selected high-risk children living in high endemic areas.