Research Article

Respiratory syncytial virus infection: admissions to hospital in industrial, urban, and rural areas. Report to the Medical Research Council Subcommittee on Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 16 September 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:796


A collaborative study of 10 centres during the winters of 1973-4 and 1974-5 showed that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was the major cause of admission to hospital for respiratory disease in children under 5 years of age in industrial, urban, and rural communities. In all areas the distribution of clinical symptoms and their severity was similar, but the rate of admission in relation to population was over twice as high in industrial as in other areas. The maximum yearly admission rate occurred among infants aged 1 to 3 months: 24.5 per 1000 of that age group were admitted to hospital. Two methods of diagnosing RSV infection--virus isolation and immunofluorescence from postnasal aspirates--were compared, and the two methods were found to agree in 91% of cases. The results of this study confirmed the importance of RSV as a respiratory pathogen in young children. Further studies are needed to determine how the virus produces its effects and to develop preventive measures.