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Respiratory Virus Surveillance -- United States, 1983-1984

Reports of noninfluenza respiratory virus isolations from certain state and university laboratories received by CDC through January 18 show: (1) large numbers of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) isolates were reported beginning in December and continuing into January from the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic regions. Large numbers of RSV were also reported from the Mountain region through December (no January data available). The South Atlantic region reported the largest number of RSV isolates: 70 of 114 respiratory specimens tested in December and January were positive for RSV. Fewer RSV isolates were reported for the same period in the East South Central, West South Central, and Pacific regions; (2) parainfluenza type 1 isolates peaked in October, with very few isolates reported in December and January; (3) smaller numbers of parainfluenza types 2 and 3 and rhinovirus isolates were reported throughout this period in some regions. Reported by LL Minnich, MS, CG Ray, MD, Arizona Health Science Center, Tucson; B Lauer, MD, M Levin, MD, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver; C Brandt, PhD, HW Kim, MD, Children's Hospital National Medical Center, District of Columbia; L Pierik, K McIntosh, MD, The Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; P Swenson, PhD, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, CB Hall, MD, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York; H Friedman, MD, S Plotkin, MD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; M Kervina, MS, E Sannella, MS, PF Wright, MD, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; L Corey, MD, Children's Orthopedic Hospital, Seattle, Washington; Respective State Virus Laboratory Directors; Div of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: RSV is the major lower respiratory tract pathogen in infants and children under 2 years old (1). In this age group, it is the principal etiologic agent of bronchiolitis and pneumonia and can be a serious nosocomial pathogen, especially in patients with compromised cardiac and respiratory systems (2,3). Hospitalized infants and young children with proven or suspected RSV infections should be placed in contact isolation during their illnesses (4). RSV infections recur throughout life, with illness in adults usually an upper respiratory infection, though there are reports of outbreaks of RSV with lower respiratory tract illness and death in the elderly. Outbreaks of RSV occur yearly throughout the United States beginning sometime between late fall and spring. They usually last from 2 to 5 months.


  1. Chanock RM, Kim HW, Brandt CD, Parott RH. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Evans AS, ed. Viral infections of humans; epidemiology and control. New York: Plenum Medical Book Co., 1982:471-89.

  2. Hall CB. Nosocomial viral respiratory infections: perennial weeds on pediatric wards. Am J Med 1981;70:670-6.

  3. MacDonald NE, Hall CB, Suffin SC, Alexson C, Harris PJ, Manning JA. Respiratory syncytial viral infection in infants with congenital heart disease. N Engl J Med 1982;307:397-400.

  4. Garner JS, Simmons BP. Guideline for isolation precautions in hospitals. Infect Control 1983; 4(suppl):245-325.

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