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Bacterial Co-Infection Common in Severe RSV Cases

Researchers warn that hospitalized infants may have increased risk of bacterial pneumonia

WEDNESDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Among children hospitalized with severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis, there is a high incidence of pulmonary bacterial co-infection, which may increase their risk of bacterial pneumonia, according to a study published in the July issue of Thorax.

Kent Thorburn, M.D., of the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital in Liverpool, U.K., and colleagues studied 165 infants (median age 1.6 months) who were admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit with RSV bronchiolitis.

The researchers found that 70 infants (42.4 percent) had lower airway secretions testing positive for bacteria, 36 (21.8 percent) were co-infected with bacteria and 34 (20.6 percent) had low bacterial growth and possible co-infection.

"The true co-infection rate is likely to be higher than the 22 percent rate detected, as 45 percent of the cases received antibiotics before admission to the pediatric intensive care unit," the authors write. "These antibiotics may have converted some of the 'co-infection' patients into the 'low bacterial growth' group, or even prevented bacterial growth altogether."

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