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Viruses 2012, 4(4), 637-653; doi:10.3390/v4040637
Article

Co-circulation of Four Human Coronaviruses (HCoVs) in Queensland Children with Acute Respiratory Tract Illnesses in 2004

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1 Queensland Paediatric Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre, Children’s Health Service, University of Queensland, Herston 4029, Australia 2 Clinical Medical Virology Centre, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Herston 4029., Australia 3 Molecular Basis of Disease research Program, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Queensland 4222, Australia 4 Division Allergy-Immunology, Northwestern University, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA 5 Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, University of Queensland, Herston 4029, Australia 6 Division of Microbiology, Pathology Queensland Central, Clinical and Scientific Services, Royal Brisbane Hospitals Campus, Herston 4029, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 March 2012 / Revised: 11 April 2012 / Accepted: 11 April 2012 / Published: 23 April 2012
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Abstract

Acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) with unconfirmed infectious aetiologies peak at different times of the year. Molecular diagnostic assays reduce the number of unconfirmed ARIs compared to serology- or culture-based techniques. Screening of 888 inpatient and outpatient respiratory specimens spanning late autumn through to early spring, 2004, identified the presence of a human coronavirus (HCoV) on 74 occasions (8.3% of all specimens and 26.3% of all respiratory virus detections). Prevalence peaked in August (late winter in the southern hemisphere) when they were detected in 21.9% of specimens tested. HCoV-HKU1 and HCoV-OC43 comprised 82.4% of all HCoVs detected. Positive specimens were used to develop novel reverse transcriptase real-time PCRs (RT-rtPCRs) for HCoV detection. An objective clinical severity score was assigned to each positive HCoV patient. Severity scores were similar to those from a random selection of young children who were positive for respiratory syncytial virus at a different time but from the same specimen population. During the cooler months of 2004, sensitive and specific RT-rtPCRs identified the concurrent circulation of all four HCoVs, a quarter of which co-occurred with another virus and most of which were from children under the age of two years.
Keywords: respiratory virus; coronavirus; HCoV-HKU1; HCoV-NL63; HCoV-229E; HCoV-OC43; real-time PCR; clinical impact respiratory virus; coronavirus; HCoV-HKU1; HCoV-NL63; HCoV-229E; HCoV-OC43; real-time PCR; clinical impact
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Mackay, I.M.; Arden, K.E.; Speicher, D.J.; O’Neil, N.T.; McErlean, P.K.; Greer, R.M.; Nissen, M.D.; Sloots, T.P. Co-circulation of Four Human Coronaviruses (HCoVs) in Queensland Children with Acute Respiratory Tract Illnesses in 2004. Viruses 2012, 4, 637-653.

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