Viral pathogens in acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Carlos A. CamargoJrEmail author
  • Adit A. Ginde
  • Sunday Clark
  • Charles P. Cartwright
  • Ann R. Falsey
  • Dennis E. Niewoehner
EM - Original


The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other viral respiratory pathogens in emergency department (ED) patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). COPD patients presenting to the ED with <10 days of AECOPD symptoms were eligible. We used PCR to test nasal swabs for common viral respiratory pathogens. We completed viral studies on 76 patients from two EDs. Patients had a mean age of 72 years, and were 68% male, 99% white, and 29% current smokers. Influenza vaccination was reported by 87%. Viruses were detected in 19 of 76 patients (25%). These included RSV A (2) and B (4); parainfluenza 1 (1), 2 (0), and 3 (2); influenza A (3) and B (0); rhinovirus (4); and human metapneumovirus (3). A putative viral etiology was identified in 25% of AECOPD presenting for emergency care, of which approximately one-third were RSV-related.


COPD Exacerbation Virus Infection Pulmonary Emergency department 



This study was supported by an investigator-initiated grant from Aventis Pasteur (Lyon, France). We thank Sunghye Kim, Heba Wassif, Fernanda Gazoni, and Patricia Foster for their assistance in this study.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to the publication of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© SIMI 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos A. CamargoJr
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  • Adit A. Ginde
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sunday Clark
    • 4
  • Charles P. Cartwright
    • 5
  • Ann R. Falsey
    • 6
  • Dennis E. Niewoehner
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of Colorado Denver School of MedicineAuroraUSA
  3. 3.Department of Emergency MedicineBeth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA
  4. 4.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of Laboratory Medicine and PathologyHennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicineUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  7. 7.Pulmonary SectionVeterans Affairs Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  8. 8.EMNet Coordinating CenterMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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