Pediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada Study of Respiratory Syncytial Virus–associated Deaths in Pediatric Patients in Canada, 2003–2013
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Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children. Mortality rates in previously healthy children hospitalized with RSV are <0.5%, but up to 37% in patients with underlying medical conditions. The objective of this study was to characterize factors associated with deaths among children hospitalized with RSV infection in Canadian pediatric centers. Methods: This was a retrospective case series of children aged ≤18 years with RSV-associated deaths at centers affiliated with the Pediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada from 2003-2013, inclusive, was performed. Cases were identified using RSV-specific International Classification of Diseases codes to capture deaths where a diagnosis of RSV infection was present. Results: Eleven centers reported 79 RSV-associated deaths. RSV was regarded as primarily responsible for death in 32 cases (40.5%). Median age at death was 11 months (range, <1 month to 16 years). Thirty-nine patients (49.4%) were male. Fourteen patients (17.7%) had no known risk factors for severe RSV infection. Healthcare-associated RSV infections (HAIs) accounted for 29 deaths (36.7%), with RSV judged to be the primary cause of death in 9 of these cases. Conclusions: RSV-associated deaths were predominantly associated with chronic medical conditions and immunocompromised states among infants; however, 1 in 5 deaths occurred among patients with no known risk factors for severe RSV. Mortality associated with HAI accounted for over a third of cases. These findings highlight patient groups that should be targeted for RSV prevention strategies such as infection control practices, immunoprophylaxis, and future vaccination programs.
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