Background: Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are the leading causes of acute respiratory illness in children. Clinical burden of each infection on the respiratory distress in asthmatic patients remains unclear. The purpose of the study was to clarify the effect of these infections on the severity of asthmatic children in the seasonal outbreaks. Methods: A total of 1,217 pediatric inpatients with hMPV (n = 114) or RSV (n = 1,103) infection in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan, between 2011 and 2014 were enrolled. Bronchial asthma was defined as having more than 3 episodes of wheezing illness over 1 year of age. Infection was determined by the positive antigen test for each virus in the nasal specimens. Results: The number of patients peaked at age 12-15 months in hMPV infection and at age 0-3 months in RSV infection. The proportion of hypoxic patients (40-50%) did not differ at any age between hMPV-infected and RSV-infected children. In the analysis of date from > 1 year old patients with hypoxia, hMPV-infection group was older (P = 0.036), and more frequently had history of asthma (P = 0.015) or abnormal chest roentgenogram (P < 0.001) than RSV-infection group. Multivariate analysis indicated that the hypoxia-associated factors were history of asthma in both hMPV (odds ratio [OR]: 15.8; P < 0.001) and RSV infections (OR, 2.2; P = 0.005), higher body temperature in hMPV infection (OR, 2.2; P = 0.009), and younger age in RSV infection (OR, 1.4; P = 0.004). Conclusions: Outbreaks of hMPV, rather than, RSV infection may have a greater impact on the development of hypoxic respiratory illness in asthmatic children.
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