Background Respiratory viral infections precipitate exacerbations of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease though similar data in non-cystic fibrosis (CF) bronchiectasis are missing. Our study aimed to determine the point prevalence of viruses associated with exacerbations and evaluate clinical and investigational differences between virus-positive and -negative exacerbations in children with bronchiectasis.
Methods A cohort of 69 children (median age 7 years) with non-CF bronchiectasis was prospectively followed for 900 child-months. PCR for 16 respiratory viruses was performed on nasopharyngeal aspirates collected during 77 paediatric pulmonologist-defined exacerbations. Clinical data, systemic (C reactive protein (CRP), IL-6, procalcitonin, amyloid-A, fibrinogen) and lung function parameters were also collected.
Findings Respiratory viruses were detected during 37 (48%) exacerbations: human rhinovirus (HRV) in 20; an enterovirus or bocavirus in four each; adenoviruses, metapneumovirus, influenza A virus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus 3 or 4 in two each; coronavirus or parainfluenza virus 1 and 2 in one each. Viral codetections occurred in 6 (8%) exacerbations. HRV-As (n=9) were more likely to be present than HRV-Cs (n=2). Children with virus-positive exacerbations were more likely to require hospitalisation (59% vs 32.5% (p=0.02)) and have fever (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.2 to 11.1), hypoxia (OR 25.5, 95% CI 2.0 to 322.6), chest signs (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 10.2) and raised CRP (OR 4.7, 95% CI 1.7 to 13.1) when compared with virus-negative exacerbations.
Interpretation Respiratory viruses are commonly detected during pulmonary exacerbations of children with bronchiectasis. HRV-As were the most frequently detected viruses with viral codetection being rare. Time-sequenced cohort studies are needed to determine the role of viral–bacterial interactions in exacerbations of bronchiectasis.