A MedicalResearch.com interview examines a prospective study that revealed RSV infections are associated with respiratory failure in adults.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is increasingly recognized as an important cause of severe respiratory-tract infections in older adults, resulting in excessive hospitalizations and deaths annually. At present, no established antiviral treatment is available. The slow progress in therapeutics development is limited by the poor understanding of the clinical manifestations, severity, virologic changes, and pathophysiology in adult RSV diseases. To address the knowledge gap, we conducted a prospective study to look at the lower-respiratory complications, progression to respiratory failure, and their relationships to genomic viral loads in adults hospitalized for confirmed RSV infections.

We found that among 123 RSV patients, nearly 90% had lower respiratory tract complications (acute bronchitis/bronchiolitis, radiographic pneumonia, exacerbation of underlying airway diseases, or their combinations), 53% developed respiratory insufficiency requiring bronchodilators and supplemental oxygen, 16% required assisted ventilation, and 12% were admitted to ICU or died. High viral RNA concentration was detected in their respiratory samples, including in patients who had onset longer than 2 days (>7 log10copies/mL). Viral load was associated with disease severity and development of respiratory insufficiency (about 40% increase in risk per log RNA increase).

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