Endemic Non-SARS-CoV-2 Human Coronaviruses in a Community-Based Australian Birth Cohort




Grimwood, Keith
Lambert, Stephen
Ware, Robert S

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American Academy of Pediatrics


Background and Objectives: The coronavirus (CoV) disease 2019 pandemic has drawn attention to abstract the CoV virus family. However, in community settings, there is limited information on these viruses in healthy children. We explored the epidemiology of the 4 endemic (non-severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV 2) human coronaviruses (HCoVs) by species, including acute illness episodes, risk factors, and health care burden in Australian children in the first 2 years of life. Mathods: The Observational Research in Childhood Infectious Diseases community-based cohort was a prospective study of acute respiratory illnesses in children from birth until their second birthday. Parents recorded daily symptoms, maintained an illness-burden diary, and collected weekly nasal swabs, which were tested for 17 respiratory viruses, including HCoVs, by real-time polymerase chain reaction assays. Results: Overall, 158 children participating in Observational Research in Childhood Infectious Diseases provided 11 126 weekly swabs, of which 168 were HCoV-positive involving 130 incident episodes. HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-OC43 were most commonly detected, accounting for two-thirds of episodes. Whereas 30 children had different HCoVs detected on different occasions, 7 were reinfected with the same species. HCoV incidence in the first 2 years of life was 0.76 episodes per child-year (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.63 to 0.91), being greatest in the second year (1.06; 95% CI 0.84 to 1.33) and during winter (1.32; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.71). Fifty percent of HCoV episodes were symptomatic, and 24.2% led to health care contact. Conclusions: In children, HCoV infections are common, recurrent, and frequently asymptomatic. In future studies, researchers should determine transmission pathways and immune mechanisms.







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