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Infectious Diseases - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology - Virology


Sequence Analysis of the Human Virome in Febrile and Afebrile Children
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Author: Kristine M. Wylie et al.

by Kristine M. Wylie, Kathie A. Mihindukulasuriya, Erica Sodergren, George M. Weinstock, Gregory A. Storch

Unexplained fever (UF) is a common problem in children under 3 years old. Although virus infection is suspected to be the cause of most of these fevers, a comprehensive analysis of viruses in samples from children with fever and healthy controls is important for establishing a relationship between viruses and UF. We used unbiased, deep sequencing to analyze 176 nasopharyngeal swabs (NP) and plasma samples from children with UF and afebrile controls, generating an average of 4.6 million sequences per sample. An analysis pipeline was developed to detect viral sequences, which resulted in the identification of sequences from 25 viral genera. These genera included expected pathogens, such as adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and roseoloviruses, plus viruses with unknown pathogenicity. Viruses that were unexpected in NP and plasma samples, such as the astrovirus MLB-2, were also detected. Sequencing allowed identification of virus subtype for some viruses, including roseoloviruses. Highly sensitive PCR assays detected low levels of viruses that were not detected in approximately 5 million sequences, but greater sequencing depth improved sensitivity. On average NP and plasma samples from febrile children contained 1.5- to 5-fold more viral sequences, respectively, than samples from afebrile children. Samples from febrile children contained a broader range of viral genera and contained multiple viral genera more frequently than samples from children without fever. Differences between febrile and afebrile groups were most striking in the plasma samples, where detection of viral sequence may be associated with a disseminated infection. These data indicate that virus infection is associated with UF. Further studies are important in order to establish the range of viral pathogens associated with fever and to understand of the role of viral infection in fever. Ultimately these studies may improve the medical treatment of children with UF by helping avoid antibiotic therapy for children with viral infections.
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