Background: Viruses are a frequent cause of upper respiratory tract infections in children. Like Taiwan, there were few virological surveillance systems for respiratory viral infections among children in developing countries. Materials and methods: During August 1995 and July 1997, 6-10 throat swab specimens per week were taken from pediatric outpatients with acute, febrile upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). The specimens were randomly obtained by two pediatricians at Chang Gung Children's Hospital and sent for virus isolation and identification. Results: A total of 910 specimens were collected and 365 specimens (40%) were positive for at least 1 virus and included 81 enterovirus, 73 adenovirus, 58 influenza B virus, 54 influenza A virus, 48 cytomegalovirus (CMV), 25 herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), 7 parainfluenza virus, 3 respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and 16 mixed viruses. Adenovirus and enterovirus were identified throughout the study period. No seasonal variation was noted for adenovirus while enterovirus peaked between May and July and also during September and November. Influenza viruses, both A and B, were identified during two periods, respectively and altogether, influenza viruses could be detected almost throughout the year. An association between the virus type identified and the mean age of patients was found (P-value = 0.0001 by ANOVA test). The mean age of patients infected with influenza viruses, either A or B, was significantly higher than those of patients infected with adenovirus, HSV-1, CMV and enterovirus. Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrate that adenovirus and enterovirus are the two most common viruses isolated from pediatric outpatients with acute, febrile URTIs and can be identified throughout the year in northern Taiwan. Influenza viruses also can be identified throughout the year and during the epidemic, a child older than 5 years of age with acute febrile URTI is likely to be a case of influenza.
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