• RSV subgrouping;
  • RT-PCR;
  • nasopharyngeal aspirates

Objective: To develop a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based assay to identify the subgroup of the infecting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) strain directly from nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPAs).

Method: A total of 154 NPAs which were positive for RSV antigen by direct immunofluorescence were subjected to RT-PCR. The primers used were designed to give products for subgroup A and B which were of different sizes and easily visualized on agarose electrophoresis. The PCR products were further analyzed by restriction analysis using enzymes which were unique or rare cutters within the PCR amplimer.

Results: It was possible to confirm RSV infection in 70% of the NPA samples studied. Of these, 92.6% belonged to the A group, and only 7.4% to the B group. Within the A group, six subgroups were identified using restriction analysis, while all B-group samples were identical to the prototype B strain, 18537.

Conclusion: RT-PCR performed on RNA isolated directly from NPAs provides a quick, easy-to-use, reasonably sensitive method to identify and group the infecting RSV strain.