The importance of age, sex and respiratory virus prevalence in emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalisations for respiratory tract infections (RTIs), asthma and COPD in a whole population over time is not well established.
This study retrospectively analysed data for daily ED visits and hospitalisations from 2003 to 2013 in Ontario, Canada and the daily number of virus positive tests. Daily numbers of ED visits and hospitalisations with RTIs, asthma and COPD listed as a primary diagnosis were collected from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Virus data were obtained from the Respiratory Virus Detection Surveillance System. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the association of individual viruses with the daily rates.
There were 4 365 578 ED visits and 321 719 (7.4%) admissions for RTIs, 817 141 ED visits and 260 665 (31.9%) admissions for COPD and 649 666 ED visits and 68 626 (10.6%) admissions for asthma. Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza A were associated with male ED visits, whereas human rhinovirus was associated with female ED visits for RTIs in preschool children. 19.2% of males, but only 7.2% of females were admitted. The correlation between the prevalence of each virus and ED visits and hospitalisations for asthma was weak, irrespective of age group and sex. Influenza A was most strongly associated with COPD ED visits and hospitalisations in males and females.
There are significant age and sex differences in the contribution of respiratory viruses to the number of ED visits and hospitalisations for RTIs, asthma and COPD.