Clinical characteristics of RSV infection: a comparison of 2 winter seasons in one center.

Julie Willekens, Elke De Wachter, Iris De Schutter, P. Haentjens, Yvan Vandenplas, Anne Malfroot

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


INTRODUCTION Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is the leading cause of
hospitalization in infants and young children. RSV infections seem to be more severe and
affect younger children this winter season (2012) compared to last winter.
METHOD We performed a retrospective review of the medical files of children hospitalised in
our centre with an RSV infection. We compared the clinical characteristics of RSV infections
in the period October-December 2011 to those in the same period in 2012.
RESULTS 154 children were hospitalised with RSV bronchiolitis (80 males, 52%), 71 in
2011 and 83 in 2012. Median age ad admission was 2.6 months (range 1.5 weeks-43.8
months) in 2011, and 3.1 months (range 1 week-55.5 months) in 2012 (P=0.7). 22.5%
(2011) and 19.3% (2012) of children had an underlying medical condition, with prematurity
being the main underlying disease (gestational ageThere was no difference in length of hospital stay (5.6±3.8 days in 2011 vs. 6.5±3.9 days
in 2012, P=0.16). Need for oxygen supplementation (59.2% vs. 61.4%, P=0.87) and tube
feeding (34% vs. 31.3%, P=0.86) were comparable in both periods, although duration of
tube feeding was longer in 2012 (3.5±2.1 days vs. 5.1±2.5 days, Pstatistically significant difference in the need for intensive care unit admission (11.3% in
2011 vs. 15.7% in 2012, P=0.5) or mechanical ventilation (2.8% vs. 6%, P=0.45). None of
the children died. The main causal subtype this season is RSV A (epidemiologic study WIVISP,
ongoing); data concerning RSV subtypes for last season in Belgium are not available.
CONCLUSION Despite our subjective impression that RSV infections are more severe this
year, we conclude that severity of RSV infections in the period October-December 2012 is
comparable to the same period in 2011, although a prolonged need for oral supplementation
was seen in 2012. RSV bronchiolitis remains an important cause of morbidity in the winter
season, especially in infants and young children. Seasonal variation in clinical presentation
and severity is not well documented in the literature, neither is the relationship with RSV
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104
Number of pages1
JournalTijdschrift van de Belgische Kinderarts
Issue number2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • RSV infection


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