The Burden of Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Human Metapneumovirus in Infants and Young Children in N. Greece, 2004-2013
Background: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acute respiratory infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in infants and children worldwide. The aetiology of many of these respiratory infections remains unknown, highlighting the potential role of unrecognized pathogens. The aim of the present study is to determine the contribution of hMPV, RSV and influenza virus infections to acute respiratory infections in children< 6 years old, during 2004- 2013 in northern Greece. Materials and Methods: During 2004-2013, a total of 949 pharyngeal swabs were collected from patients younger than 6 years old, who were presented as Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) or other respiratory infections. The clinical specimens were divided into three age groups (0-6 months-119 specimens, 7 months-2 years-377 specimens, 3-6 years-453 specimens). A real-time onestep RT-PCR protocol with specific primers and probes for matrix protein and haemagglutinin genes was used in order to type and subtype influenza A and B viruses. A multiplex real-time one-step RT-PCR was used to detect hMPV and RSV in the extracted RNA. Results: Influenza viruses were detected in 343 out of 949 specimens, RSV in 82 and hMPV in 50 specimens. Conclusion: Our results show the significant role of these pathogens in childhood respiratory disease. They require constant medical attention as they represent a substantial health care burden among inpatients and outpatients.