RSV Just as Deadly as Flu in Elderly Patients

Specialty Pharmacy Times, July/August 2013, Volume 4, Issue 4

A new study finds that RSV infections in elderly patients can lead to respiratory failure, prolonged hospitalizations, and morbidity rates similar to those caused by seasonal influenza.

RSV is thought to be most dangerous in infants, but a new study finds that RSV infections in elderly patients can lead to respiratory failure, prolonged hospitalizations, and morbidity rates similar to those caused by seasonal influenza. The retrospective cohort study, published online on July 21, 2013, in Clinical Infectious Diseases, compared 607 patients with an average age of 75 years hospitalized for RSV with 547 similar patients hospitalized for seasonal influenza in 3 acute general hospitals in Hong Kong from 2009 to 2011.

Of the RSV patients in the study, 71.9% were diagnosed with lower respiratory complications, and 67.9% required supplemental oxygen. The mortality rate for patients hospitalized with RSV was 9.1% after 30 days and 11.9% after 60 days. Among surviving RSV patients, the average length of stay was 12 days. Older age, radiographic pneumonia, requirement for ventilation, bacterial superinfection, and elevated urea were all associated with an increased risk of death. The researchers found that overall survival rates and length of hospitalizations in RSV patients were not significantly different from those of influenza patients.

The authors note that treatment with corticosteroids did not improve outcomes for RSV patients. They also stress the need for antiviral therapy and vaccination against RSV for adults in this population.