Coronavirus infections in hospitalized pediatric patients with acute respiratory tract disease
1 Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Zaloška 4, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia
2 University Children’s Hospital, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Bohoričeva 20, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia
3 Institute of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine, Vrazov trg 2, Ljubljana 1104, Slovenia
BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:365 doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-365Published: 20 December 2012
Acute viral respiratory infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in humans worldwide. The etiological backgrounds of these infections remain unconfirmed in most clinical cases. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of human coronavirus infections in a series of children hospitalized with symptoms of acute respiratory tract disease in a one-year period in Slovenia.
The 664 specimens from 592 children under six years of age hospitalized at the University Children’s Hospital in Ljubljana were sent for the routine laboratory detection of respiratory viruses. Respiratory viruses were detected with a direct immunofluorescence assay and human coronaviruses were detected with a modified real-time RT–PCR.
HCoV RNA was detected in 40 (6%, 95% CI: 4.3%–8.1%) of 664 samples. Of these specimens, 21/40 (52.5%) were identified as species HKU1, 7/40 (17.5%) as OC43, 6/40 (15%) as 229E, and 6/40 (15%) as NL63. Infection with HCoV occurred as a coinfection with one or more other viruses in most samples (70%). Of the HCoV-positive children, 70.3% had lower respiratory tract infections.
The results of our study show that HCoV are frequently detected human pathogens, often associated with other respiratory viruses and acute respiratory tract infections in hospitalized children. An association between age and the viral load was found. The highest viral load was detected in children approximately 10 months of age.