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1.  Do children’s upper respiratory tract infections benefit from probiotics? 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:194.
Background
The microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract have profound influence at multiple levels, even on the development and maintenance of lung immunity and inflammation. Aim of this review is to evaluate the current knowledge about the specific impact on children’s respiratory tract infections from probiotics, live microbes with the power to modify intestinal microbial populations and exert subsequent benefits for the host.
Discussion
The role of probiotics in gastrointestinal and allergic diseases has been largely assessed, but the number of studies performed so far in the field of respiratory tract infections is small, though some data show that probiotic administration might display clinical advantages. Probiotic strain identity and host genetic differences may account for differential modulation of immune responses by probiotics. Current laboratory and clinical data regarding the possibility of the role of probiotics on preventing the development of respiratory tract infections are contradictory, and are somewhat insufficient to recommend strongly their routine use. Further study of gastrointestinal-respiratory interactions is likely to yield important insights into the pathogenesis of different pulmonary diseases, and improve our knowledge in the prophylactic role of probiotics in children affected by recurrent upper respiratory tract infections.
Summary
A better understanding of the effects of different probiotic strains and a deeper insight into their mechanisms of action are needed for the validation of specific strains carrying a potential to modify the frequency and severity of RTIs in infants and children. No data have been collected in pediatric patients with chronic underlying diseases, and yet there are no published data concerning treatment of RTIs with probiotics. The very few studies published so far do not indicate which micro-organism or administration regimen might exert beneficial effects as a prevention tool of RTIs both in healthy children and in those with recurrent RTIs. Further research to establish the role of probiotics in the treatment and prevention of RTIs, including those involving the lower respiratory tract, are required and should also clarify if any susceptible subgroups of respiratory diseases exist, and how these subgroups benefit from supplementation with certain probiotic strains.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-194
PMCID: PMC3984429  PMID: 24720809
Acute otitis media; Children; Prevention; Probiotics; Respiratory tract infection; Upper respiratory tract infections
2.  Immune history shapes specificity of pandemic H1N1 influenza antibody responses 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(8):1493-1500.
The specificity of H1N1 antibody responses can be shifted to epitopes near the HA receptor–binding domain after sequential infections with viral strains that share homology in this region.
Human antibody responses against the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) virus are predominantly directed against conserved epitopes in the stalk and receptor-binding domain of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein. This is in stark contrast to pH1N1 antibody responses generated in ferrets, which are focused on the variable Sa antigenic site of HA. Here, we show that most humans born between 1983 and 1996 elicited pH1N1 antibody responses that are directed against an epitope near the HA receptor–binding domain. Importantly, most individuals born before 1983 or after 1996 did not elicit pH1N1 antibodies to this HA epitope. The HAs of most seasonal H1N1 (sH1N1) viruses that circulated between 1983 and 1996 possess a critical K133 amino acid in this HA epitope, whereas this amino acid is either mutated or deleted in most sH1N1 viruses circulating before 1983 or after 1996. We sequentially infected ferrets with a 1991 sH1N1 virus and then a pH1N1 virus. Sera isolated from these animals were directed against the HA epitope involving amino acid K133. These data suggest that the specificity of pH1N1 antibody responses can be shifted to epitopes near the HA receptor–binding domain after sequential infections with sH1N1 and pH1N1 viruses that share homology in this region.
doi:10.1084/jem.20130212
PMCID: PMC3727314  PMID: 23857983
3.  Phylogenetic Analysis of Human Rhinovirus Isolates Collected from Otherwise Healthy Children with Community-Acquired Pneumonia during Five Successive Years 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80614.
In order to evaluate the circulation of the different human rhinovirus (HRV) species and genotypes in Italian children with radiographically confirmed community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), a nasopharyngeal swab was obtained from 643 children admitted to hospital because of CAP during five consecutive winter and early spring seasons (2007-2012). Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to identify HRV, and the HRV-positive samples were used for sequencing analysis and to reconstruct the phylogenetic tree. HRV was identified in 198 samples (42.2%), and the VP4/VP2 region was successfully amplified in 151 (76.3%). HRV-A was identified in 78 samples (51.6%), HRV-B in 14 (9.3%) and HRV-C in 59 (39.1%). Forty-seven (31.1%) of the children with HRV infection were aged <1 year, 71 (47.0%) were aged 1-3 years, and 33 (21.9%) were aged ≥4 years. Blast and phylogenetic analyses showed that the HRV strains were closely related to a total of 66 reference genotypes, corresponding to 29 HRV-A, 9 HRV-B and 28 HRV-C strains. Nucleotide variability was 37% between HRV-A and HRV-B, 37.3% between HRV-A and HRV-C, and 39.9% between HRV-B and HRV-C. A number of sequences clustered with known serotypes and, within these clusters, there were strains circulating during several seasons. The most frequently detected genotypes were HRV-A78 (n=17), HRV-A12 (n=9) and HRV-C2 (n=5). This study shows that, although it is mainly associated with HRV-A, pediatric CAP can also be diagnosed in subjects infected by HRV-C and, more rarely, by HRV-B. Moreover, a large number of genotypes may be involved in causing pediatric CAP and can be different from year to year. Although the prolonged circulation of the same genotypes can sometimes be associated with a number of CAP episodes in different years.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080614
PMCID: PMC3833952  PMID: 24260436
4.  A case of meningitis due to varicella zoster virus reactivation in an immunocompetent child 
Background
The development of neurological complications due to varicella zoster virus (VZV) reactivation is relatively uncommon, particularly in the case of immunocompetent patients. Only a few cases have been described in the literature, most of which involved adult or elderly patients.
Clinical presentation
Two days after his pediatrician had diagnosed herpes zoster and prescribed oral acyclovir 400 mg three times a day, a 14-year-old boy was admitted to our hospital because of mild fever, severe headache, slowness, drowsiness and vomiting. A cerebrospinal fluid examination was performed and showed an increased protein concentration (95 mg/dL), normal glucose level (48 mg/dL; blood glucose level, 76 mg/dL) and lymphocytic pleocytosis (1,400 lymphocytes/μL), and VZV DNA was detected by means of polymerase chain reaction (1,250 copies/mL). The results of immunological screening for HIV, lymphocyte subpopulation counts, serum immunoglobulin and complement (C3 and C4) levels, vaccine responsiveness and lymphocytes stimulation tests were unremarkable. Acyclovir was administered intravenously at a dose of 10 mg/kg three times a day and continued for 10 days. The therapy was highly effective and the patient’s clinical condition rapidly improved: fever disappeared after two days, and all of the signs and symptoms of neurological involvement after four days. The skin lesions resolved in about one week, and no pain or dysesthesia was ever reported. Given the favourable evolution of the illness, the child was discharged without further therapy after the 10-day treatment. The findings of a magnetic resonance examination immediately after the discontinuation of the antiviral therapy were normal, and a control examination carried out about four weeks later did not find any sign or symptom of disease.
Conclusion
VZV reactivation can also lead to various neurological complications in immunocompetent children. Prompt therapy with acyclovir and the integrity of the immune system are important in conditioning outcome, but other currently unknown factors probably also play a role.
doi:10.1186/1824-7288-39-72
PMCID: PMC3832881  PMID: 24224976
Herpes zoster; Varicella; Varicella zoster virus; VZV reactivation
5.  Clinical profile of recurrent community-acquired pneumonia in children 
Background
The aim of this case–control study was to analyse the clinical characteristics of children with recurrent community-acquired pneumonia (rCAP) affecting different lung areas (DLAs) and compare them with those of children who have never experienced CAP in order to contribute to identifying the best approach to such patients.
Methods
The study involved 146 children with ≥2 episodes of radiographically confirmed CAP in DLA in a single year (or ≥3 episodes in any time frame) with radiographic clearing of densities between occurrences, and 145 age- and gender-matched controls enrolled in Milan, Italy, between January 2009 and December 2012. The demographic and clinical characteristics of the cases and controls were compared, and a comparison was also made between the cases with rCAP (i.e. ≤3 episodes) and those with highly recurrent CAP (hrCAP: i.e. >3 episodes).
Results
Gestational age at birth (p = 0.003), birth weight (p = 0.006), respiratory distress at birth (p < 0.001), and age when starting day care attendance (p < 0.001) were significantly different between the cases and controls, and recurrent infectious wheezing (p < 0.001), chronic rhinosinusitis with post-nasal drip (p < 0.001), recurrent upper respiratory tract infections (p < 0.001), atopy/allergy (p < 0.001) and asthma (p < 0.001) were significantly more frequent. Significant risk factors for hrCAP were gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD; p = 0.04), a history of atopy and/or allergy (p = 0.005), and a diagnosis of asthma (p = 0.0001) or middle lobe syndrome (p = 0.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age and gender, showed that all of the risk factors other than GERD and wheezing were associated with hrCAP.
Conclusions
The diagnostic approach to children with rCAP in DLAs is relatively easy in the developed world, where the severe chronic underlying diseases favouring rCAP are usually identified early, and patients with chronic underlying disease are diagnosed before the occurrence of rCAP in DLAs. When rCAP in DLAs does occur, an evaluation of the patients’ history and clinical findings make it possible to limit diagnostic investigations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2466-13-60
PMCID: PMC3852007  PMID: 24106756
Allergy; Asthma; Atopy; Children; Community-acquired pneumonia; Lower respiratory tract infection; Pneumonia; Recurrent pneumonia; Respiratory tract infection; Wheezing
6.  Subcutaneous emphysema as the first relevant clinical sign of complicated tubercular lymph node disease in a child 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:461.
Background
Children make up a significant proportion of the global tuberculosis (TB) caseload, and experience considerable TB-related morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, it is not easy to diagnose TB in the first years of life because of the diversity of its clinical presentation and the non-specific nature of most of its symptoms.
Case presentation
A 26-month-old male child was admitted to hospital because of the sudden onset of rapidly increasing swelling of the neck, face and upper trunk a few hours before. Upon admission, his temperature was 36.5°C, pulse rate 120/min, respiratory rate 36/min, and O2 saturation 97% in air. Palpation revealed subcutaneous emphysema (SE) over the swollen skin areas, and an examination of the respiratory system revealed crepitations in the left part of the chest without any significant suggestion of mediastinal shift. Chest radiography showed enlargement of the left lung hilum with pneumomediastinum and diffuse SE. Bronchoscopy was carried out because of the suspicion that the SE may have been due to the inhalation of a peanut. This excluded the presence of a foreign body but showed that the left main bronchus was partially obstructed with caseous material and showed significant signs of granulomatous inflammation on the wall. Contrast-enhanced computed tomography of the lungs confirmed the SE and pneumomediastinum, and revealed bilateral hilum lymph node disease with infiltration of the adjacent anatomical structure and a considerable breach in the left primary bronchus wall conditioning the passage of air in the mediastinum and subcutaneous tissue. As a tuberculin skin test and polymerase chain reaction for Mycobacterium tuberculosis on bronchial material and gastric aspirate were positive, a diagnosis of TB was made and oral anti-TB therapy was started, which led to the elimination of M. tuberculosis and a positive clinical outcome.
Conclusions
This is the first case in which SE was the first relevant clinical manifestation of TB and arose from infiltration of the bronchial wall secondary to caseous necrosis of the hilum lymph nodes. Physicians should be aware of the fact that SE is one of the possible initial signs and symptoms of early TB infection, and act accordingly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-461
PMCID: PMC3851260  PMID: 24094042
Children; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Subcutaneous emphysema; Tuberculosis
8.  Genome Characterisation of Enteroviruses 117 and 118: A New Group within Human Enterovirus Species C 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60641.
The more than 120 genotypes of human enteroviruses (HEVs) reflect a wide range of evolutionary divergence, and there are 23 currently classified as human enterovirus C species (HEV-C). Two new HEV-C (EV-C117 and EV-C118) were identified in the Community-Acquired Pneumonia Pediatric Research Initiative (CAP-PRI) study, and the present paper describes the characterisation of the complete genome of one EV-C117 strain (LIT22) and two EV-C118 (ISR38 and ISR10) strains. The EV-C117 and EV-C118 5′UTR sequences were related to those of EV-C104, EV-C105 and EV-C109, and were slightly shorter than those of other HEV A-D species. Similarity plot analyses showed that EV-C117 and EV-C118 have a P1 region that is highly divergent from that of the other HEV-C, and phylogenetic analyses highly supported a monophyletic group consisting of EV-C117, EV-C118, EV-C104, EV-C105 and EV-C109 strains. Phylogenetic, Simplot and Bootscan analyses indicated that recombination was not the main mechanism of EV-C117 and EV-C118 evolution, thus strengthening the hypothesis of the monophyletic origin of the coding regions, as in the case of other HEV-C. Phylogenetic analysis also revealed the emergence of a new group within HEV-C that is divided into two subgroups. Nucleotide and amino acid identity in VP1 sequences have been established as useful criteria for assigning new HEV types, but analysis of the complete P1 region improves resolution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060641
PMCID: PMC3614900  PMID: 23565264
9.  Complete Genome Sequence of a Novel Human Enterovirus C (HEV-C117) Identified in a Child with Community-Acquired Pneumonia 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(19):10888-10889.
The new enterovirus C-117 strain belongs to the human enterovirus C species in the Picornaviridae family. We describe the characterization of the complete genome of this strain identified in a respiratory specimen of a child enrolled in the Community-Acquired Pneumonia Pediatric Research Initiative (CAP-PRI) study evaluating the etiology of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).
doi:10.1128/JVI.01721-12
PMCID: PMC3457295  PMID: 22966184
10.  Full Genome Sequence of a Novel Human Enterovirus C (EV-C118) Isolated from Two Children with Acute Otitis Media and Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Israel 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00121-12.
The new enterovirus C strain EV-C118 belongs to the human enterovirus C species of the Picornaviridae family. We report the complete genome sequence of this strain, which was identified in respiratory specimens of two children hospitalized in Israel because of acute otitis media and community-acquired pneumonia who were enrolled in the Community-Acquired Pneumonia Pediatric Research Initiative (CAP-PRI) study.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00121-12
PMCID: PMC3569292  PMID: 23405305
11.  Toll-like receptor 3 gene polymorphisms and severity of pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza in otherwise healthy children 
Virology Journal  2012;9:270.
Background
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) form an essential part of the innate immune system, which plays a fundamental role in rapidly and effectively controlling infections and initiating adaptive immunity. There are no published data concerning the importance of polymorphisms of TLRs in conditioning susceptibility to influenza or the severity of the disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether selected polymorphisms of TLR2, TLR3 and TLR4 influence the incidence and clinical picture of pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza.
Results
The study involved 272 healthy children attending our Emergency Room for influenza-like illness (ILI), including 51 (18.8%) with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza as revealed by real-time polymerase chain reaction, and 164 healthy controls examined after minor surgery. Genomic DNA was extracted from whole blood samples and five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were studied: TLR2 rs5743708, TLR3 rs5743313, TLR3 rs5743315, TLR4 rs4986790 and TLR4 rs4986791. The TLR3 rs5743313/CT polymorphism was found in all of the children with pneumonia and influenza infection, but in a significantly smaller number of those with A/H1N1/2009 influenza without pneumonia (<0.0001). TLR2, TLR3 rs5743315/AC and TLR4 polymorphisms were equally distributed in all of the groups regardless of the presence of the pandemic A/H1N1/2009 virus and clinical diagnosis. Viral load was comparable in all of the study groups.
Conclusions
There is a close relationship between the presence of TLR3 rs5743313/CT and an increased risk of pneumonia in children infected by the pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-270
PMCID: PMC3511245  PMID: 23151015
Children; Innate immunity; Influenza; Pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus; TLR3; Toll-like receptors
12.  Burden of paediatric influenza in Western Europe: a systematic review 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:968.
Background
Influenza illness in children causes significant clinical and economic burden. Although some European countries have adopted influenza immunisation policies for healthy children, the debate about paediatric influenza vaccination in most countries of the European Union is ongoing. Our aim was to summarise influenza burden (in terms of health outcomes and economic burden) in children in Western Europe via a systematic literature review.
Methods
We conducted a systematic literature search of PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library (1970-April 2011) and extracted data on influenza burden in children (defined as aged ≤ 18 years) from 50 publications (13 reporting laboratory-confirmed influenza; 37 reporting influenza-like illness).
Results
Children with laboratory-confirmed influenza experienced hospitalisations (0.3%-20%), medical visits (1.7-2.8 visits per case), antibiotic prescriptions (7%-55%), and antipyretic or other medications for symptomatic relief (76%-99%); young children and those with severe illness had the highest rates of health care use. Influenza in children also led to absenteeism from day care, school, or work for the children, their siblings, and their parents. Average (mean or median) length of absence from school or day care associated with confirmed influenza ranged from 2.8 to 12.0 days for the children, from 1.3 to 6.0 days for their siblings, and from 1.3 to 6.3 days for their parents. Influenza negatively affected health-related quality of life in children with asthma, including symptoms and activities; this negative effect was smaller in vaccinated children than in non-vaccinated children.
Conclusions
Influenza burden in children is substantial and has a significant direct impact on the ill children and an indirect impact on their siblings and parents. The identified evidence regarding the burden of influenza may help inform both influenza antiviral use in children and paediatric immunisation policies in European countries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-968
PMCID: PMC3534559  PMID: 23146107
Influenza; Children; Vaccination; Europe; Burden
13.  Novel Human Enterovirus C Infection in Child with Community-acquired Pneumonia 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(11):1913-1915.
doi:10.3201/eid1811.120321
PMCID: PMC3559168  PMID: 23092590
community-acquired pneumonia; pneumonia; enterovirus; enterovirus C; Picornaviridae; respiratory infection; respiratory virus; viruses; child
14.  Severe vitamin B12 deficiency in an exclusively breastfed 5-month-old Italian infant born to a mother receiving multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:85.
Background
In infants, vitamin B12 deficiency may be due to an inborn error of absorption and metabolism, or nutritional problems.
Case presentation
An exclusively breastfed 5-month-old Italian male infant, who was born after a normal full-term pregnancy to a vegan mother who was apparently daily treated with a multivitamin oral preparation during the second and third trimester, was hospitalised because of poor weight gain, feeding difficulties, severe pallor, muscle hypotonia and somnolence. Upon admission, his weight, length and head circumference were below the third percentile, he had an enlarged liver and spleen, and showed a significant delay in developmental milestones and communicative reactions. He had a hemoglobin level of 4.7 g/dL with an MCV of 84.2 fL, a white blood cell count of 4,680/mm3, and a platelet count of 45,000/mm3. His serum vitamin B12 level was 57 pg/mL (normal value 180–500 pg/mL) and serum folate level 12.8 ng/mL (normal value >3 ng/mL). The results of metabolic examinations excluded a cobalamin C disorder, whereas nutritional screening showed a serum iron concentration of 9 μg/dL and serum ferritin of 4 ng/mL. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain showed mild dilatation of the lateral ventricles with diffuse delayed myelination. The child was diagnosed as having vitamin B12 and iron deficiency due to nutritional inadequacy and was immediately treated with packed red blood cells, intramuscular vitamin B12 injections, and iron supplementation. A few days after the start of therapy, his hemoglobin levels and other hematological parameters rapidly improved, and a clinical improvement was observed within few weeks. There was an increase in his achievement of developmental milestones, but his development was still retarded seven months after the start of therapy.
Conclusion
This case underlines the importance of adequately controlling maternal vitamin B12 intake during pregnancy by means of supplementation which, in the case of vegan mothers, should be significantly greater than that usually given. Moreover, the supplementation should be continued during lactation in order to avoid the development of signs of deficiency that may be associated with persistent neurological problems in infants. The case also highlights the need to consider vitamin B12 deficiency in infants with severe anemia even if their hematological parameters do not indicate megaloblastic anemia because the concomitant presence of substantial iron deficiency may modify the characteristics of the anemia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-85
PMCID: PMC3407531  PMID: 22726312
Anemia; Iron deficiency; Neurological problems; Vegan diet; Vegan mothers; Vitamin B12 deficiency
15.  Role of polymorphisms of toll-like receptor (TLR) 4, TLR9, toll-interleukin 1 receptor domain containing adaptor protein (TIRAP) and FCGR2A genes in malaria susceptibility and severity in Burundian children 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:196.
Background
Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is one of the leading causes of human morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical countries. As genetic variations in the toll-like receptors (TLRs)-signalling pathway have been associated with either susceptibility or resistance to several infectious and inflammatory diseases, the supposition is that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of TLR2, TLR4, TLR9, Toll-interleukin 1 receptor domain containing adaptor protein (TIRAP) and FCGR2A could modulate malaria susceptibility and severity.
Methods
This study was planned to make a further contribution to solving the problem of the real role of the most common polymorphisms of TLR4, TLR9, TIRAP and FCGR2A genes in modulating the risk of malaria and disease severity in children from Burundi, Central Africa. All the paediatric patients aged six months to 10 years admitted to the hospital of Kiremba, Burundi, between February 2011 and September 2011, for fever and suspicion of acute malaria were screened for malaria parasitaemia by light microscopy of thick and thin blood smears. In children with malaria and in uninfected controls enrolled during the study period in the same hospital, blood samples were obtained on filter paper and TLR4 Asp299Gly rs4986790, TLR9 G1174A rs352139, T-1486 C rs187084 TLR9 T-1237 C rs5743836, TIRAP Ser180Leu rs8177374 and the FCGR2A His131Arg rs1801274 polymorphisms were studied using an ABI PRISM 7900 HT Fast Real-time instrument.
Results
A total of 602 patients and 337 controls were enrolled. Among the malaria cases, 553 (91.9 %) were considered as suffering from uncomplicated and 49 (8.1 %) from severe malaria. TLR9 T1237C rs5743836CC was associated with an increased risk of developing malaria (p = 0.03), although it was found with the same frequency in uncomplicated and severe malaria cases. No other differences were found in all alleles studied and in genotype frequencies between malaria cases and uninfected controls as well as between uncomplicated and severe malaria cases.
Conclusions
TLR9 T1237C seems to condition susceptibility to malaria in Burundian children but not its severity, whereas none of the assessed SNPs of TLR4, TIRAP and FCGR2A seem to influence susceptibility to malaria and disease severity in this population.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-196
PMCID: PMC3411399  PMID: 22691414
Children; cerebral malaria; FCGR2A; malaria; SNPs; toll-like receptors; TIRAP; TLR4; TLR9; uncomplicated malaria.
16.  Antibody response of healthy children to pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus 
Virology Journal  2011;8:563.
Background
Little is known about the proportion of pediatric pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza cases who showed seroconversion, the magnitude of this seroconversion, or the factors that can affect the antibody level evoked by the pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza. Aims of this study were to analyse antibody responses and the factors associated with high antibody titres in a cohort of children with naturally acquired A/H1N1/2009 influenza infection confirmed by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results
Demographic, clinical and virologic data were collected from 69 otherwise healthy children with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza (27 females, mean age ± SD: 5.01 ± 4.55 years). Their antibody levels against pandemic A/H1N1/2009 and seasonal A/H1N1 influenza viruses were evaluated by measuring hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies using standard assays. Sixty-four patients (92.8%) with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza had A/H1N1/2009 antibody levels of ≥40, whereas only 28/69 (40.6%) were seroprotected against seasonal A/H1N1 influenza virus. Those who were seroprotected against seasonal A/H1N1 virus were significantly older, significantly more often hospitalised, had a diagnosis of pneumonia significantly more frequently, and were significantly more often treated with oseltamivir than those who were not seroprotected (p < 0.05). The children with the most severe disease (assessed on the basis of a need for hospitalisation and a diagnosis of pneumonia) had the highest antibody response against pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus.
Conclusions
Otherwise healthy children seem to show seroprotective antibody titres after natural infection with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus. The strength of the immune response seems to be related to the severity of the disease, but not to previous seasonal A/H1N1 influenza immunity.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-563
PMCID: PMC3274496  PMID: 22208497
Children; Immune response; Influenza; Pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus; Pediatric infectious diseases
17.  Clinical and socioeconomic impact of different types and subtypes of seasonal influenza viruses in children during influenza seasons 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:271.
Background
There are few and debated data regarding possible differences in the clinical presentations of influenza A/H1N1, A/H3N2 and B viruses in children. This study evaluates the clinical presentation and socio-economic impact of laboratory-confirmed influenza A/H1N1, A/H3N2 or B infection in children attending an Emergency Room because of influenza-like illness.
Methods
Among the 4,726 children involved, 662 had influenza A (143 A/H1N1 and 519 A/H3N2) and 239 influenza B infection detected by means of real-time polymerase chain reaction. Upon enrolment, systematic recordings were made of the patients' demographic characteristics and medical history using standardised written questionnaires. The medical history of the children was re-evaluated 5-7 days after enrolment and until the resolution of their illness by means of interviews and a clinical examination by trained investigators using standardised questionnaires. During this evaluation, information was also obtained regarding illnesses and related morbidity among households.
Results
Children infected with influenza A/H1N1 were significantly younger (mean age, 2.3 yrs) than children infected with influenza A/H3N2 (mean age, 4.7 yrs; p < 0.05)) or with influenza B (mean age, 5.2 yrs; p < 0.05). Adjusted for age and sex, children with influenza A/H3N2 in comparison with those infected by either A/H1N1 or with B influenza virus were more frequently affected by fever (p < 0.05) and lower respiratory tract involvement (p < 0.05), showed a worse clinical outcome (p < 0.05), required greater drug use (p < 0.05), and suffered a worse socio-economic impact (p < 0.05). Adjusted for age and sex, children with influenza B in comparison with those infected by A/H1N1 influenza virus had significantly higher hospitalization rates (p < 0.05), the households with a disease similar to that of the infected child (p < 0.05) and the need for additional household medical visits (p < 0.05).
Conclusions
Disease due to influenza A/H3N2 viral subtype is significantly more severe than that due to influenza A/H1N1 subtype and influenza B virus, which indicates that the characteristics of the different viral types and subtypes should be adequately considered by health authorities when planning preventive and therapeutic measures.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-271
PMCID: PMC3205059  PMID: 21992699
A/H1N1 influenza virus; children; influenza; pediatrics; viral types; viral subtypes
18.  Viral shedding in children infected by pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus 
Virology Journal  2011;8:349.
Background
The aim of this study was to investigate viral shedding in otherwise healthy children with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza in order to define how long children with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza shed the virus, and also plan adequate measures to control the spread of the disease within households.
Findings
In 74 otherwise healthy children with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza, nasopharyngeal swabs were taken for virus detection upon hospital admission and every two days until negative. The nasopharyngeal swabs of all of the children were positive for pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus in the first three days after the onset of infection, and only 21.6% and 13.5% remained positive after respectively 11 and 15 days. No child was positive after more than 15 days. Viral load also decreased over time, and was not associated with patient age or the risk of pneumonia. Those who shed the virus for ≥ 9 days were not at any increased risk of suffering from more severe disease in comparison with those who shed the virus for a shorter time, but their households experienced a significantly higher number of influenza-like illness during the two weeks after the onset of the initial disease (72.3% vs 41.4%; p < 0.05).
Conclusions
Regardless of their age, healthy children can shed pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus for up to two weeks after illness onset, and the households of the children who shed the virus for ≥ 9 days suffered a higher number of influenza-like illness in the two weeks following the onset of the first disease. This could suggest that when a completely unknown influenza virus is circulating, isolation period of infected children has to be longer than the 7 days recommended for the infections due to seasonal influenza viruses.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-349
PMCID: PMC3150308  PMID: 21752272
19.  Altered cardiac rhythm in infants with bronchiolitis and respiratory syncytial virus infection 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:305.
Background
Although the most frequent extra-pulmonary manifestations of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection involve the cardiovascular system, no data regarding heart function in infants with bronchiolitis associated with RSV infection have yet been systematically collected. The aim of this study was to verify the real frequency of heart involvement in patients with bronchiolitis associated with RSV infection, and whether infants with mild or moderate disease also risk heart malfunction.
Methods
A total of 69 otherwise healthy infants aged 1-12 months with bronchiolitis hospitalised in standard wards were enrolled. Pernasal flocked swabs were performed to collect specimens for the detection of RSV by real-time polymerase chain reaction, and a blood sample was drawn to assess troponin I concentrations. On the day of admission, all of the infants underwent 24-hour Holter ECG monitoring and a complete heart evaluation with echocardiography. Patients were re-evaluated by investigators blinded to the etiological and cardiac findings four weeks after enrolment.
Results
Regardless of their clinical presentation, sinoatrial blocks were identified in 26/34 RSV-positive patients (76.5%) and 1/35 RSV-negative patients (2.9%) (p < 0.0001). The blocks recurred more than three times over 24 hours in 25/26 RSV-positive patients (96.2%) and none of the RSV-negative infants. Mean and maximum heart rates were significantly higher in the RSV-positive infants (p < 0.05), as was low-frequency power and the low and high-frequency power ratio (p < 0.05). The blocks were significantly more frequent in the children with an RSV load of ≥100,000 copies/mL than in those with a lower viral load (p < 0.0001). Holter ECG after 28 ± 3 days showed the complete regression of the heart abnormalities.
Conclusions
RSV seems associated with sinoatrial blocks and transient rhythm alterations even when the related respiratory problems are mild or moderate. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms of these rhythm problems and whether they remain asymptomatic and transient even in presence of severe respiratory involvement or chronic underlying disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-305
PMCID: PMC2987303  PMID: 20969802
20.  Clinical importance and impact on the households of oseltamivir-resistant seasonal A/H1N1 influenza virus in healthy children in Italy 
Virology Journal  2010;7:202.
A resistance of A/H1N1 influenza viruses to oseltamivir has recently emerged in a number of countries. However, the clinical and socioeconomic importance of this resistance has not been precisely defined. As children have the highest incidence of influenza infection and are at high risk of severe disease, the aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical importance and the impact on the households of oseltamivir-resistant seasonal A/H1N1 influenza virus in an otherwise healthy pediatric population. A total of 4,726 healthy children younger than 15 years with influenza-like illness were tested for influenza viruses by real-time polymerase chain reaction in the winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in Italy. The influenza A virus-positive samples underwent neuraminidase gene analysis using pyrosequencing to identify mutations H275Y and N294 S in A/H1N1, and E119V, R292K, and N294 S in A/H3N2. Among the A/H1N1 subtypes, the H275Y mutation was found in 2/126 samples taken in 2007-2008 (1.6%) and in all 17 samples (100%; p < 0.0001) taken in 2008-2009. No other mutation was identified in any of the A/H1N1 or A/H3N2 influenza viruses. No significant differences were found in terms of clinical importance or impact on the households between the children with oseltamivir-resistant seasonal A/H1N1 influenza virus and those with the wild-type. The spread of H275Y-mutated A/H1N1 seasonal influenza virus is a common phenomenon and the clinical importance and impact on the households of the mutated virus is similar to that of the wild-type in an otherwise healthy pediatric population.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-202
PMCID: PMC2939559  PMID: 20738882
21.  Knowledge of human papillomavirus infection and its prevention among adolescents and parents in the greater Milan area, Northern Italy 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:378.
Background
In order to be widely accepted by users, the implementation of a new health intervention requires them to be adequately informed about its clinical importance, benefits and risks. The aim of this study was to provide data on the knowledge of Italian adolescents and parents concerning human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and its prevention in order to allow the development of adequate training programmes.
Methods
Between 2 May and 15 June 2008, we made a cross-sectional survey of 863 high school students and 2,331 parents of middle and high school students using two anonymously completed questionnaires covering the knowledge of HPV infection and related diseases, and attitudes to vaccinations. The approached schools were a convenience sample of the schools of the greater Milan area, Northern Italy.
Results
More mothers than fathers were aware that HPV infection could concern their children (58% vs 53%; p = 0.004) and were favourable towards vaccinating their children against HPV (68% vs 65%; p = 0.03); among the students, more females than males were aware that HPV infection could concern themselves (45% vs 26%; p < 0.001) and would undergo vaccination against HPV (68% vs 40%; p < 0.001). The parents' propensity to vaccinate their children against HPV was significantly associated with professing the Catholic religion (odds ratio - OR = 0.61, 95% confidence interval - CI 0.46-0.82, being atheist), the gender of the offspring (OR = 1.88, 95% CI 1.53-2.30, having at least one daughter), a propensity to vaccinations in general (OR = 23.1, 95% CI 13.7-38.8), a knowledge that HPV vaccine is aimed at preventing cervical cancer (OR = 2.31, 95% CI 1.69-3.16), and an awareness that HPV could affect their own children (OR = 3.52, 95% CI 2.89-4.29). The students who were aware that HPV infection could affect themselves were more in favour of to HPV vaccination, regardless of whether they were male (OR = 5.73, 95% CI 2.85-11.5) or female (OR = 2.39, 95% CI 1.66-3.46).
Conclusions
Both students and parents seem to underestimate the likelihood of HPV infection, and this is associated with a lower propensity for vaccination. This is an important indication for future training programmes concerning HPV prevention designed to increase the acceptance of HPV vaccine in families.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-378
PMCID: PMC2901377  PMID: 20584324
22.  Collection by trained pediatricians or parents of mid-turbinate nasal flocked swabs for the detection of influenza viruses in childhood 
Virology Journal  2010;7:85.
This study evaluated the efficiency of pediatric mid-turbinate nasal flocked swabs used by parents in 203 children aged 6 months to 5 years with signs and symptoms of respiratory disease. Two nasal samples were collected from each child in a randomised sequence: one by a trained pediatrician and one by a parent. The real-time polymerase chain reaction influenza virus detection rates were similar in the samples collected using the two methods (Cohen's kappa = 0.86), as were the cycle threshold values. In comparison with the pediatrician-collected samples, the sensitivity and specificity of the parental collections were respectively 89.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 77.8-100%) and 97.7% (95% CI: 95.5-100%), and the positive and negative predictive values were respectively 86.2% (95% CI: 73.7-95.1%) and 98.2% (95% CI: 96.4-100%). The children were significantly more satisfied with the parental collections (median values ± standard deviation, 1.59 ± 0.55 vs 3.51 ± 0.36; p < 0.0001). These findings show that mid-turbinate nasal flocked swabs specifically designed for infants and children can be used by parents without reducing the influenza virus detection rate. Moreover, the direct involvement of parents significantly increases patient acceptance, thus simplifying collection and suggesting that this novel swab design should be considered for epidemiological surveys and vaccine efficacy studies.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-85
PMCID: PMC2873380  PMID: 20433729
23.  Safety and Immunogenicity of a 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Compared to Those of a 7-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Given as a Three-Dose Series with Routine Vaccines in Healthy Infants and Toddlers ▿ †  
A 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) has been developed to improve protection against pneumococcal disease beyond that possible with the licensed 7-valent vaccine (PCV7). This study compared the safety and immunogenicity of PCV13 with those of PCV7 when given as part of the pediatric vaccination schedule recommended in Italy. A total of 606 subjects were randomly assigned to receive either PCV13 or PCV7 at 3, 5, and 11 months of age; all subjects concomitantly received diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B-inactivated polio-Haemophilus influenzae type B (DTaP-HBV-IPV/Hib) vaccine. Vaccine reactions were monitored. Antibody responses to DTaP-HBV-IPV/Hib antigens, serotype-specific anticapsular polysaccharide IgG responses, and antipneumococcal opsonophagocytic assay (OPA) activity were measured 1 month after the two-dose primary series and 1 month after the toddler dose. Overall, the safety profile of PCV13 was similar to that of PCV7. The response to DTaP-HBV-IPV/Hib antigens was substantially the same with both PCV13 and PCV7. PCV13 elicited antipneumococcal capsular IgG antibodies to all 13 vaccine serotypes, with notable increases in concentrations seen after the toddler dose. Despite a lower immunogenicity for serotypes 6B and 23F after the primary series of PCV13, responses to the seven common serotypes were comparable between the PCV13 and PCV7 groups when measured after the toddler dose. PCV13 also elicited substantial levels of OPA activity against all 13 serotypes following both the infant series and the toddler dose. In conclusion, PCV13 appeared comparable to PCV7 in safety profile and immunogenicity for common serotypes, demonstrated functional OPA responses for all 13 serotypes, and did not interfere with immune responses to concomitantly administered DTaP-HBV-IPV/Hib vaccine.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00062-10
PMCID: PMC2884425  PMID: 20427630
24.  Effects of Coronavirus Infections in Children 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(2):183-188.
These viruses should be closely monitored to prevent spread of virulent strains.
The isolation of the coronavirus (CoV) identified as the cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome and the detection of 2 new human CoVs (HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-HKU1) have led to studies of the epidemiology and clinical and socioeconomic effects of infections caused by all HCoVs, including those known since the late 1960s (HCoV-229E and HCoV-OC43). HCoV infections can be associated with respiratory and extrarespiratory manifestations, including central nervous system involvement. Furthermore, unlike other RNA viruses, HCoVs can easily mutate and recombine when different strains infect the same cells and give rise to a novel virus with unpredictable host ranges and pathogenicity. Thus, circulating HCoVs should be closely monitored to detect the spread of particularly virulent strains in the community at an early stage and to facilitate the development of adequate preventive and therapeutic measures.
doi:10.3201/eid1602.090469
PMCID: PMC2957994  PMID: 20113545
Human coronaviruses; emerging viruses; respiratory viruses; SARS; childhood; viruses; perspective
25.  Self-reported pediatricians' management of the well-appearing young child with fever without a source: first survey in an European country in the anti-pneumococcal vaccine era 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:300.
Background
Recent studies suggest a substantially reduced risk of invasive bacterial infection in children vaccinated with heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). To investigate whether the introduction of PCV might affect clinical decision making, we conducted a cross-sectional survey aimed at Italian Pediatric physicians.
Results
The study included 348 (46.5%) primary care pediatricians; 251 (36.4%) hospital pediatricians, and 139 (20.1%) pediatric residents. In an hypothetical scenario, a well-appearing 12-month-old child with fever without source would be sent home with no therapy by 60.7% (419/690) of physicians if the child was not vaccinated with PCV. The proportion increased to 74.2% (512/690) if the child had received PCV (P < 0.0001). Also, physicians would obtain blood tests less frequently in the vaccinated than in unvaccinated children (139/690 [20.1%] vs. 205/690 [29.7%]; P < 0.0001), and started empiric antibiotic therapy less frequently (3.0% vs. 7.5%; P < 0.0001). In the hypothetical event that white blood cell count was 17,500/μL, a significantly lower proportion of physicians would ask for erythrocyte sedimentation rate (P < 0.017), C reactive protein (P < 0.0001), blood culture (P = 0.022), and urine analysis or dipstick (P = 0.028), if the child had received PCV. Only one third of participants routinely recommended PCV.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that implementation of educational programs regarding the proper management of the febrile child is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-300
PMCID: PMC2736943  PMID: 19689826

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