Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus in infants and children: relationship with attendance at a paediatric emergency unit and characteristics of the circulating strains
- First Online:
- 120 Downloads
A study was carried out on 2,696 Italian children, aged 0–14 years. The goals were: (1) to define the age-related impact of acute respiratory infections (ARI), measured as the risk of attendance at the Paediatric Emergency Room, (2) to better define the importance and proportion of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and (3) to acquire deeper knowledge of the influenza strains circulating in infants and children. A standardised emergency unit attendance risk (EUAR) was calculated, by age group for ARI. Specific EUARs were also calculated for the two pathogens. Pharyngeal swabs were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for influenza and RSVs. Isolation in Madine-Darby canine kidney cells (MDCK) and Hep cells, haemagglutination inhibition (HI) testing and HA1 gene sequence analysis were performed for influenza viruses. Most of the patients enrolled were aged 0–5 years, 1,139 (84.6%) and 1,061 (78.5%) in the two seasons, respectively. The most represented age class was that of 1 year olds (331 cases in 2001–2002 and 301 in 2002–2003). The highest EUAR for ARI was in patients aged 0–3 years (16.8 and 12.9 during the two seasons). The same was observed on calculating this risk by specific pathogens: 17.4 and 5.5 for influenza and 13.0 and 12.7 for RSV. Virological analysis was performed on 2,696 samples, 595 of which proved positive (22%). The highest number of isolates (326) came from patients aged 1–3 years. RSVs were more often identified than influenza viruses in infants aged up to 1 year (32 vs. 20 isolates). Of 265 strains isolated in 2001–2002, 103 were RSVs (87 type A, 16 B) and 162 were influenza (90 type A, 72 B). HI showed that influenza B viruses were related to two lineages, B/Victoria/2/87 (32%) and B/Yamagata/16/88 (68%). Of 330 strains isolated in 2002–2003, 102 were RSVs (91 type A, 11 B) and 228 were influenza viruses (220 type A, 8 B). A/H3N2 strains belonged to two clusters, A/Panama/2007/99-like and A/Fujian/411/02-like, a new variant. This paper discusses the possible role of the identified flu strains in determining EUARs among the population by age class.