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Frequent detection of bocavirus DNA in German children with respiratory tract infections

Benedikt Weissbrich1*, Florian Neske1, Jörg Schubert1, Franz Tollmann1, Katharina Blath12, Kerstin Blessing2 and Hans Wolfgang Kreth2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Virology and Immunobiology, University of Würzburg, Versbacher Str. 7, 97078 Würzburg, Germany

2 Children's Hospital, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Str. 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:109  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-109

Published: 11 July 2006



In a substantial proportion of respiratory tract diseases of suspected infectious origin, the etiology is unknown. Some of these cases may be caused by the recently described human bocavirus (hBoV). The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency and the potential clinical relevance of hBoV in pediatric patients.


We tested 835 nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPA) obtained between 2002 and 2005 from pediatric in-patients with acute respiratory tract diseases at the University of Würzburg, Germany, for the presence of hBoV DNA. The specificity of positive PCR reactions was confirmed by sequencing.


HBoV DNA was found in 87 (10.3 %) of the NPAs. The median age of the infants and children with hBoV infection was 1.8 years (mean age 2.0 years; range 18 days – 8 years). Infections with hBoV were found year-round, though most occurred in the winter months. Coinfections were found in 34 (39.1 %) of the hBoV positive samples. RSV, influenza A, and adenoviruses were most frequently detected as coinfecting agents. Sequence determination of the PCR products in the NP-1 region revealed high identity (99 %) between the nucleotide sequences obtained in different years and in comparison to the Swedish viruses ST1 and ST2. An association of hBoV with a distinct respiratory tract manifestation was not apparent.


HBoV is frequently found in NPAs of hospitalized infants and children with acute respiratory tract diseases. Proving the clinical relevance of hBoV is challenging, because application of some of Koch's revised postulates is not possible. Because of the high rate of coinfections with hBoV and other respiratory tract pathogens, an association between hBoV and respiratory tract diseases remains unproven.