Thursday, 26 February 2015

Viruses Increasingly Behind Child Pneumonia Cases


Bug that causes common cold, other infections often to blame, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Young children are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill with pneumonia -- but unlike in years past, the cause is usually a respiratory virus, a large U.S. study finds.

The researchers found that 66 percent of pneumonia cases in the more than 2,000 children in the study were caused by viruses alone. Just 8 percent had solely bacterial causes, and 7 percent were known to be caused by both bacteria and viruses. And, those infections can end up being serious, the study authors said.

"Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of hospitalizations among children," said the study's lead author, Dr. Seema Jain, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pneumonia is a general term for an infection of the lungs, and it can be caused by a range of viruses, bacteria or even fungi. The disease is often thought of as a problem affecting elderly adults -- especially when it's severe enough to warrant a hospital stay.

However, children -- especially younger children -- are also at increased risk, according to Jain. About 16 children out of every 10,000 get pneumonia every year. In youngsters under 2 years old, that number jumps to 62, according to the study published in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

But while it's well known that childhood pneumonia is a public health concern, these latest findings help to better "quantify" the problem, Jain said.

For the study, her team tested body fluid samples from over 2,200 children treated for pneumonia at three U.S. children's hospitals. The investigators found that nearly three-quarters of the children had viral infections -- either alone or in combination with a bacterial infection. The infections included a range of viruses that often cause congestion and other cold symptoms, but can also lead to more-severe infections such as pneumonia.

The most commonly detected virus was respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. According to the CDC, almost all children contract an RSV infection by their second birthday. Anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent develop either bronchiolitis (inflammation in the small airways of the lungs) or pneumonia the first time they're exposed to the virus.

source : Viruses Increasingly Behind Child Pneumonia Cases

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