Rhinovirus accounted for three-quarters of viral infections for children during the pandemic

The occurrence of rhinovirus and enterovirus among children rose slightly between 2019 and 2020 — surprising some and revealing new insights for pediatricians. 

"These results were surprising to the people that didn't think rhinovirus was a very significant virus," Natasha Halasa, MD, an author of the research and a professor of pediatrics in the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healio

Samples were collected from more than 38,000 pediatric patients since 2016 and tested for various respiratory viruses as part of an effort with the CDC. Findings were categorized as pre-pandemic, between December 2016 and March 11, 2020, and pandemic, between March 12, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. 

"Rhinoviruses and/or enteroviruses were the most frequently detected viruses in both periods and all age groups in the ED and inpatient setting," researchers wrote, adding that the total number of the viruses "reflected just under half of all viral detections before the pandemic and nearly three-quarters during the pandemic."

However, the research also found that of the children in the study who tested positive for rhinovirus, fewer cases required inpatient treatment during the pandemic than did before the pandemic. 

Because the virus lacks true seasonality and tends to circulate year-round, researchers wrote that the findings call for increased awareness from physicians and health professionals in "defining the healthcare burden of respiratory viruses … and the implications of viral codetection, especially as SARS-CoV-2 transmission continues and the implementation of community interventions evolves."


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