Marco Heppe-Montero, Stefan Walter, Valentín Hernández-Barrera, Ruth Gil-Prieto, Ángel Gil-de-Miguel

Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of acute lower respiratory tract infection (ALRI) leading to infant hospitalization, morbidity and postnatal mortality in children younger than 5 years of age worldwide. The aim of this study was to collect data on hospitalizations for RSV-related ALRI in children in Spain from 2012 to 2018.

Methods: We used the discharge reports from the Minimum Basic Data Set (MBDS) to retrospectively analyze hospital discharge data in children ≤ 14 years of age with a diagnosis of acute lower respiratory tract infection, based on the ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes, from 2012 to 2018.

Results: A total of 190,474 children, 58.1% boys and 41.9% girls, were admitted for lower respiratory tract infections in Spain, including 118,731 cases of bronchiolitis, 53,972 cases of bronchitis, 3710 cases of RSV-positive pneumonia, and 14,061 cases of RSV infections. Of these, 92,426 children (48.5%) had laboratory-confirmed RSV infection. The mean case fatality rate was almost 6 times higher for pneumonia (0.6%) than for bronchiolitis (0.1%) or bronchitis (0.1%). A significant linear increase in the mean annual hospitalization rate for pneumonia of almost 15% per year was found, with no changes in the trend over the study period.

Conclusions: RSV-related respiratory infections remain a leading cause of infant hospitalization in Spain. Effective antiviral treatments and preventive vaccines are urgently needed for the management of RSV infection in children, especially for those aged 6 to 12 months.

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