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To estimate the frequency, molecular epidemiological and clinical associations of infection with the newly described species C variants of human rhinoviruses (HRV), 3243 diagnostic respiratory samples referred for diagnostic testing in Edinburgh were screened using a VP4-encoding region-based selective polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for HRV-C along with parallel PCR testing for 13 other respiratory viruses. HRV-C was the third most frequently detected behind respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and adenovirus, with 141 infection episodes detected among 1885 subjects over 13 months (7.5%). Infections predominantly targeted the very young (median age 6-12 months; 80% of infections in those <2 years), occurred throughout the year but with peak incidence in early winter months. HRV-C was detected significantly more frequently among subjects with lower (LRT) and upper respiratory tract (URT) disease than controls without respiratory symptoms; HRV-C mono-infections were the second most frequently detected virus (behind RSV) in both disease presentations (6.9% and 7.8% of all cases respectively). HRV variants were classified by VP4/VP2 sequencing into 39 genotypically defined types, increasing the current total worldwide to 60. Through sequence comparisons of the 5'untranslated region (5'UTR), the majority grouped with species A (n = 96; 68%, described as HRV-Ca), the remainder forming a phylogenetically distinct 5'UTR group (HRV-Cc). Multiple and bidirectional recombination events between HRV-Ca and HRV-Cc variants and with HRV species A represents the most parsimonious explanation for their interspersed phylogeny relationships in the VP4/VP2-encoding region. No difference in age distribution, seasonality or disease associations was identified between HRV-Ca and HRV-Cc variants. HRV-C-infected subjects showed markedly reduced detection frequencies of RSV and other respiratory viruses, providing evidence for a major interfering effect of HRV-C on susceptibility to other respiratory virus infections. HRV-C's disease associations, its prevalence and evidence for interfering effects on other respiratory viruses mandates incorporation of rhinoviruses into future diagnostic virology screening.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0008518

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

30/12/2009

Volume

4

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Base Sequence, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Genetic Testing, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Middle Aged, Phylogeny, Picornaviridae Infections, Recombination, Genetic, Respiratory Syncytial Viruses, Respiratory Tract Infections, Rhinovirus, Seasons, Young Adult