Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, 110029, India. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: Acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in young children worldwide. Information on viral etiology in ALRI from India is limited. The aim of the present study was to develop a simple, sensitive, specific and cost effective multiplex PCR (mPCR) assay without post PCR hybridization or nested PCR steps for the detection of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses (PIV1-3) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV). Nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPAs) were collected from children with ALRI < or = 5 years of age. The sensitivity and specificity of mPCR was compared to virus isolation by centrifugation enhanced culture (CEC) followed by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF). RESULTS: From April 2005-March 2007, 301 NPAs were collected from children attending the outpatient department or admitted to the ward of All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital at New Delhi, India. Multiplex PCR detected respiratory viruses in 106 (35.2%) of 301 samples with 130 viruses of which RSV was detected in 61, PIV3 in 22, PIV2 in 17, hMPV in 11, PIV1 in 10 and influenza A in 9 children. CEC-IIF detected 79 viruses only. The sensitivity of mPCR was 0.1TCID50 for RSV and influenza A and 1TCID50 for hMPV, PIV1, PIV2, PIV3 and Influenza B. Mixed infections were detected in 18.8% of the children with viral infections, none detected by CEC-IIF. Bronchiolitis was significantly associated with both total viral infections and RSV infection (p < 0.05). History of ARI in family predisposed children to acquire viral infection (p > 0.05). CONCLUSION: Multiplex PCR offers a rapid, sensitive and reasonably priced diagnostic method for common respiratory viruses.