Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Viruses

Epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus in children in Cyprus during three consecutive winter seasons (2010–2013): age distribution, seasonality and association between prevalent genotypes and disease severity

C. PANAYIOTOUa1 c1, J. RICHTERa1, M. KOLIOUa2, N. KALOGIROUa2, E. GEORGIOUa2 and C. CHRISTODOULOUa1

a1 Department of Molecular Virology, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus

a2 Archbishop Makarios Hospital, Department of Paediatrics, Nicosia, Cyprus

SUMMARY

This study reports the epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in hospitalized children in Cyprus over three successive seasons (2010–2013) and the association between prevalent genotypes and disease severity. RSV infections had a circulation pattern from December to March. Most RSV-positive children (83%) were aged <2 years. Genotyping of RSV isolates showed that during the first winter season of the study (2010–2011), the only RSV genotype circulating was GA2 (RSV-A), followed by genotype BA (RSV-B) in the next winter season with only few sporadic cases of GA2. During the last winter season of the study (2012–2013) the newly emerged RSV genotype ON1 (RSV-A) was virtually the only circulating genotype. Children infected with genotype ON1 suffered a significantly milder illness compared to infections with genotypes GA2 and BA with a higher percentage of BA-infected children requiring oxygen. Our findings are in contrast to the majority of published reports that suggest RSV-A causes more severe illness than RSV-B. Therefore, further investigation of the association between RSV genotypes and disease severity is required, as it might affect treatment strategies in the future.

(Received September 23 2013)

(Revised November 27 2013)

(Accepted December 30 2013)

(Online publication January 24 2014)

Key words

  • Respiratory infections;
  • respiratory syncytial virus;
  • virology (human) and epidemiology

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: C. Panayiotou, PhD, Department of Molecular Virology, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, 6 International Airport Ave., PO Box 23462, 1683 Nicosia, Cyprus. (Email: chrispan13@hotmail.com)

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