Respiratory Syncytial Virus Exacts Global Toll in Children

RSV-associated acute lower-respiratory infections may kill nearly 200,000 children under 5 yearly
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be responsible for acute lower-respiratory infections (ALRIs) that kill nearly 200,000 children younger than 5 worldwide each year, according to a review published online April 16 in The Lancet.

Harish Nair, of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between January, 1995, and June, 2009, and 10 unpublished population-based studies.

In 2005, the researchers estimated that there were 33.8 million new episodes of RSV-associated ALRIs worldwide in children under age 5, resulting in at least 3.4 million hospital admissions and 66,000 to 199,000 deaths, 99 percent of which occurred in developing countries. They also found that the incidence of RSV-associated disease in infants is double or even triple the overall incidence in children under 5 years of age.

"Globally RSV is the most common cause of childhood ALRI and a major cause of admission to hospital as a result of severe ALRI. Mortality data suggest that RSV is an important cause of death in childhood from ALRI, after pneumococcal pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae type b. The development of novel prevention and treatment strategies should be accelerated as a priority," the authors write.

Several study authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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