Respiratory Virus Infections Are a Frequent Cause of Severe Pneumonia in Moroccan Children

A study performed in Morocco shows that infections by RSV and hMPV are frequent among hospitalized children with respiratory symptoms


A study performed by researchers from ISGlobal and the Children's Hospital of Rabat shows that two respiratory virus (RSV and hMPV) are a frequent cause of severe pneumonia in young children in Morocco. The results, published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection, form part of a larger epidemiological study of pneumonia in Morocco and was financed by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID).

Acute respiratory infections are the main cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five years of age and 9 out of 10 pneumonia-associated deaths occur in developing countries. Although most infections are caused by bacteria, recent studies confirm the presence of respiratory virus in at least 50% of pneumonia episodes that require hospitalization. Among these, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the human metapneumovirus (hMPV) are highly prevalent but their real contribution to severe pneumonia, as defined by WHO, in different regions remains to be determined.   

The results of this study, that included more than 600 children between 2 months and five years of age, show that both RSV and hMPV infections are frequent causes of respiratory-related hospital admissions. "In fact, 1 out of 5 children was infected by RSV and 1 out of 10 by hMPV" says Dr. Imane Jroundi, first author of the study.   Although the clinical symptoms of both virus were undistinguishable, hMPV was associated to more severe cases. This is the first study that shows that both virus are common causes of WHO-defined severe pneumonia in Moroccan children. The authors conclude that further studies are needed to better characterize the risk factors for these infections and improve their early recognition in order to design better preventive and treatment strategies. 


Reference: Jroundi I, Mahraoui C, Benmessaoud R, Moraleda C, Tligui H, Seffar M, et al.A comparison of human metapneumovirus and respiratory syncytial virus WHO-defined severe pneumonia in Moroccan children. Epidemiol Infect. 2015. Jul 6:1-11.