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Human bocavirus in children hospitalized for acute respiratory tract infection in Rome

BACKGROUND:

The role of human bocavirus (HBoV) as a respiratory pathogen has not been fulfilled yet. We aimed to describe clinical and serological characteristics of children with HBoV hospitalized for acute respiratory tract infection and to evaluate whether differences occur between HBoV alone and in co-infection.

METHODS:

We retrospectively reviewed data from 60 children (median age of 6.2 months, range 0.6-70.9) hospitalized for acute respiratory symptoms, with HBoV detected from a respiratory sample, using a reverse transcriptase-PCR for 14 respiratory viruses (including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus A and B, human coronavirus OC43, 229E, NL-63 and HUK1, adenovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus1-3, and human metapneumovirus).

RESULTS:

HBoV was detected alone in 29 (48.3%) patients, while in co-infection with other viruses in 31 patients (51.7%), with a peak between December and January. Among the 60 patients, 34 were bronchiolitis, 19 wheezing, 3 pneumonia, 2 upper respiratory tract infection, and 2 whooping cough. Seven children (11.6%) required admission to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for respiratory failure. No differences was observed in age, family history for atopy and/or asthma, clinical presentations, chest X-ray, or laboratory findings in children with HBoV alone vs. multiple viral detection. RSV was the most frequently co-detected virus (61.3%). When compared with HBoV detection alone, the co-detection of RSV and HBoV was associated with male sex (P = 0.013), younger age (P = 0.01), and lower blood neutrophil count (P = 0.032).

CONCLUSIONS:

HBoV can be detected alone and in co-infection respiratory samples of children with an acute respiratory tract infection. A cause-effect relationship between HBoV and respiratory infection is not clear, so further studies are needed to clarify this point.


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