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Respiratory syncytial virus outbreak in a long-term care facility detected using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction: an argument for real-time detection methods.

  • Author(s): Caram, L Brett
  • Chen, Jodi
  • Taggart, E William
  • Hillyard, David R
  • She, Rosemary
  • Polage, Christopher R
  • Twersky, Jack
  • Schmader, Kenneth
  • Petti, Cathy A
  • Woods, Christopher W
  • et al.

OBJECTIVES:To report an outbreak of respiratory synctyial virus (RSV) in a long-term care facility (LTCF) during ongoing routine respiratory illness surveillance. DESIGN:Rapid antigen testing, viral culture, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) testing, and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for up to 15 viruses in symptomatic residents and chart review. SETTING:A 120-bed LTCF. MEASUREMENTS:Comparison of rapid antigen testing, respiratory viral cultures, and DFA testing and RT-PCR in residents with symptoms of a respiratory tract infection. RESULTS:Twenty-two of 52 residents developed symptoms of a respiratory tract infection between January 29, 2008, and February 26, 2008. RSV was detected using RT-PCR in seven (32%) of the 22 cases. None of the seven cases had positive RSV rapid antigen testing, and only two had positive culture or DFA results. This outbreak occurred during a time when state wide RSV rates were rapidly declining. One patient was admitted to the hospital during the infection and subsequently died. CONCLUSION:RSV may cause outbreaks in LTCFs that traditional diagnostic methods do not detect. RT-PCR can provide a more timely and accurate diagnosis of outbreaks, which allows for early symptomatic treatment, rational use of antibiotics, and improved infection control.

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