Background: Human bocavirus (HBoV) is known to cause lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in children and may result in substantial morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to determine HBoV prevalence among hospitalized infants and small children with acute LRTI in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as to evaluate HBoV DNA quantity in samples in relation to the patients’ age and co-infection with other respiratory viruses.
Methods: During winter season 2016/2017, a total of 295 children younger than three years of age who were admitted to hospitals with LRTI were tested for the presence of HBoV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus (ADV), parainfluenza virus (PIV) types 1 to 3, and human metapneumovirus (HMPV). HBoV was detected with a real-time PCR method, and the other viruses were diagnosed using monoclonal antibodies in direct fluorescence assay.
Results: Viral etiology was proven in 225/295 (76.3%) of patients. The most commonly diagnosed virus was RSV (59.3%), followed by HBoV (23.1%), PIVs (4.4%), ADV (3.1%), and HMPV (1.4%). HBoV-infected children were older than RSV-infected children; likewise, detection rates of HBoV infection increased with age, while RSV infection rates decreased with age. In 51% of HBoV-positive samples an additional respiratory virus was also detected. There was no difference in HBoV DNA quantity between samples with single virus detection and those with multiple virus detection (p = 0.056), although samples positive only for HBoV showed higher cycle threshold values. There was no difference in HBoV DNA quantity in samples of different age groups (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: Frequent detection of HBoV in small children with LRTI, even in combination with other viruses, highlights its role in the pathogenesis of respiratory disease.