September 01, 2011
1 min read

Parainfluenza virus type 4 likely to occur during other respiratory illnesses

Fairchok MP. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2011;30:716-718.

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Parainfluenza virus type 4 is a significant cause of respiratory illness in healthy children and is likely to coincide with and possibly exacerbate other viral pathogen infections, according to a recently published study.

Mary P. Fairchok, MD, and colleagues of the department of pediatrics in the Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash., prospectively followed 225 children aged younger than 2 years who attended day care centers in the area. The children attended the centers during two separate periods, between Feb. 1, 2006, and April 28, 2008, and again from Oct. 28, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

The researchers said parainfluenza virus type 4 (PIV-4) accounted for 10% of all infections, and coinfection was common in about 67% of episodes.

“This relatively higher rate is likely reflective of our healthy outpatient population and suggests that PIV-4 may not be as likely to cause severe infection as PIV-1 and PIV-3,” they said.

Comparing the results of the current study with previous findings, Fairchok and colleagues said PIV-4 infection may have an irregular epidemic pattern in contrast to seasonal influenza. PIV-4 also has the potential to cause outbreaks, which have been reported in institutionalized children.

A cluster of three asymptomatic PIV-4 infections during a 2-week period were also reported in this study, which demonstrates the potential for transmission in a closed setting.

“Data from studies, such as ours, are important in determining the importance of various viral pathogens and are relevant as novel vaccines against PIV are being developed,” the researchers said. “Further study of PIV in normal and hospitalized children in this country, as well as developing countries, are necessary to determine the true clinical importance of this pathogen.”

Disclosure: The study was supported by an investigator-initiated grant from MedImmune.

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