Journal of clinical microbiology vol:45 issue:9 pages:3022-3030
Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) is the leading viral cause of severe respiratory illness for infants and young children worldwide. Two major antigenic groups (A and B) of HRSV exist, and viruses from both subgroups can cocirculate during epidemics; however, their frequencies might differ between seasons. The subgroup prevalence and genotype distribution patterns of HRSV strains were investigated in a community in Belgium during 10 successive epidemic seasons (1996 to 2006). A regular 3-year cyclic pattern of subgroup dominance was observed, consisting of two predominant HRSV-A seasons, followed by a single HRSV-B-dominant year. HRSV infections with both subgroups were more prevalent among children younger than 6 months and had a peak incidence in December. The most frequently detected genotypes were GA5 and GB13, the latter including strains with the 60-nucleotide duplication in the G gene. Furthermore, GA5 remained the dominant HRSV genotype in two consecutive epidemic seasons twice during the study period. Additional variability was detected among the GB13 isolates, due to the usage of a novel termination codon in the G gene. Dual infections with both HRSV subgroups were detected for 9 patients, and subsequent infections with the heterologous HRSV subgroup were documented for 15 patients. Among five patients with homologous reinfections, only one was caused by HRSV-B. Our results support the hypothesis that the overall prevalence of HRSV-A over HRSV-B could be due to a more-transient subgroup A-specific immune protection.