Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division

Sorting out respiratory illnesses in daycares

As any parent of young children knows, schools and daycares are rife with all sorts of bacterial and viral infections.  Respiratory illnesses in particular are more common and more severe among children attending daycare centers than those cared for at home.  Given the large number of young children in daycare in the U.S., studies to address the prevalence and incidence of respiratory illnesses in these settings are important.  Dr. Mary Fairchok, pediatrician at the Madigan Army Medical Center, along with colleagues including VIDD affiliate investigator Dr. Janet Englund and VIDD staff scientist Dr. Jane Kuypers, used sensitive molecular detection techniques to examine 14 respiratory viruses in children attending two daycare centers in Fort Lewis, WA.  Between 2006 and 2008, the researchers took nasal swabs of any child who had symptoms of a cold-like illness, and analyzed those swabs for the presence of viral DNA.  Following the 119 children enrolled in the study, the researchers studied 318 respiratory tract infections.  They detected one or more of the 14 common viruses in two-thirds of these cases, more than double what had been previously reported in studies using less sensitive detection techniques.  The most common viruses identified were rhinovirus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Fairchok MP, Martin ET, Chambers S, Kuypers J, Behrens M, Braun LE, Englund JA.  Epidemiology of viral respiratory tract infections in a prospective cohort of infants and toddlers attending daycare.  J Clin Virol. 2010 Sep;49(1):16-20.