Conference Coverage

FUO, pneumonia often distinguishes influenza from RSV in hospitalized young children



Fever of unknown origin and pneumonia are two clinical features useful in distinguishing between influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infection as the cause of hospitalization in infants and young children, Cihan Papan, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Cihan Papan, a pediatrician at University Children's Hospital Mannheim and Heidelberg University Bruce Jancin/MDedge News

Dr. Cihan Papan

Dr. Papan, a pediatrician at University Children’s Hospital Mannheim (Germany) and Heidelberg (Germany) University, presented a retrospective single-center study of all 573 children aged under 2 years hospitalized over the course of several seasons for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or influenza as confirmed by rapid antigen testing. Even though these are two of the leading causes of hospitalization among young children, there is surprisingly sparse data comparing the two in terms of disease severity and hospital resource utilization, including antibiotic consumption. That information gap provided the basis for this study.

There were 476 children with confirmed RSV, 96 with influenza, and 1 RSV/influenza coinfection. Notably, even though the RSV group had lower temperatures and C-reactive protein levels, they were nevertheless more likely to be treated with antibiotics, by a margin of 29% to 23%.

Comparison of young children hospitalized for RSV vs. flu

“These findings open new possibilities for antimicrobial stewardship in these groups of virally infected children,” observed Dr. Papan.

Fever of unknown origin was present in 68.8% of the influenza-positive patients, compared with just 0.2% of the RSV-positive children. In contrast, 50.2% of the RSV group had pneumonia and 49.6% had bronchitis or bronchiolitis, versus just 22.9% and 6.3% of the influenza patients, respectively. A larger proportion of the young children with RSV infection presented in a severely ill–looking condition. Children with RSV infection also were significantly younger.

Dr. Papan reported having no financial conflicts regarding his study.

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