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Keywords:

  • Acute respiratory tract infections;
  • emerging viruses;
  • influenza virus A(H1N1) 2009;
  • pediatric hospitalizations;
  • viral respiratory infections

Please cite this paper as: Zuccotti et al. (2011) Epidemiological and clinical features of respiratory viral infections in hospitalized children during the circulation of influenza virus A(H1N1) 2009. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 5(6), e528–e534.

Background  Seasonal influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are primary causes of acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in children. New respiratory viruses including human metapneumovirus (hMPV), human bocavirus (hBoV), and influenza 2009 A(H1N1) virus have a strong impact on the pediatric population.

Objectives  To evaluate epidemiological and clinical features of ARTIs in hospitalized children.

Methods  From December 1, 2008, to December 31, 2009, all children under age fifteen (= 575) hospitalized for ARTIs were investigated for influenza A (subtype H1N1, H3N2, and 2009 H1N1) and B, RSV A and B, hMPV, and hBoV by PCR.

Results  Fifty-one percent of samples were positive for these respiratory viruses. The frequencies of virus detection were RSV 34·1%, hBoV 6·8%, hMPV 5%, seasonal influenza A 5%, and seasonal influenza B 0%. From April 2009, 11·6% of collected samples were influenza 2009 A(H1N1) positive. Respiratory syncytial virus activity peaked in January, hBoV in February, and hMPV in April. Seasonal influenza A was detected only between January and April 2009, while influenza 2009 A(H1N1) peaked in November. Respiratory syncytial virus and hMPV were mainly associated with lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) and with necessity of O2 administration. The 2009 pandemic influenza was more frequently detected in elder children (< 0·001) and was associated with higher, longer-lasting fevers compared with other viral infections (< 0·05).

Conclusions  All considered viruses were involved in LRTIs. The primary clinical relevance of RSV and a similar involvement of both seasonal influenza and emerging viruses investigated were observed on the pediatric population.