Severe lower respiratory tract infections are associated with human adenovirus in hospitalised children in a high HIV prevalence area

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N Marafungana
K L Naidoo
L Gounder
R Masekela


Background. Viral causes of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are associated with increased mortality in children aged <5 years (U5). Human adenovirus (HAdV) has been associated with severe LRTI; however, its relationship with HIV and malnutrition in South Africa (SA) is not understood.
Objectives. To identify the prevalence of and factors associated with HAdV LRTIs in hospitalised U5 childen.

Methods. Clinical and viral data on U5 children hospitalised with severe LRTI from January 2018 to June 2020 at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, SA, including results of a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) panel assay for respiratory viruses, were retrieved from inpatient files and laboratory databases and retrospectively analysed. Standard descriptive statistics and Pearson’s χ2, Fisher’s exact and Mann-Whitney tests were used to determine significant associations with HAdV LRTI.

Results. Among the 206 viral assays analysed (15.6% of all LRTI admissions), HAdV was the most common virus identified. The cohort had a median (interquartile range) age of 5 (2 - 13) months, 47.3% had perinatal HIV exposure, and 34.5% had severe acute malnutrition (SAM). No seasonal pattern with HAdV could be demonstrated. SAM and prematurity were significant risk factors for readmission, and perinatal HIV exposure was a significant risk factor for presence of multiple viruses on analysis of a respiratory specimen. Detection of HAdV was not associated with an increased risk of requiring oxygen or ventilatory support.

Conclusion. HAdV was the most common virus found on analysis of multiplex PCR panel results in children hospitalised with severe LRTI in SA, where high rates of HIV exposure may result in increased susceptibility to viral co-infections. The role of HAdV as a cause of severe LRTI in SA infants, who have high rates of HIV exposure, requires greater scrutiny.


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Marafungana N, Naidoo KL, Gounder L, Masekela R. Severe lower respiratory tract infections are associated with human adenovirus in hospitalised children in a high HIV prevalence area. Afr J Thoracic Crit Care Med [Internet]. 2024 Jul. 4 [cited 2024 Jul. 18];30(2):e1208. Available from:
Original Research: Articles
Author Biography

K L Naidoo, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Clinical Medicine, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa

Head of Unit
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Paediatrics and Child Health

How to Cite

Marafungana N, Naidoo KL, Gounder L, Masekela R. Severe lower respiratory tract infections are associated with human adenovirus in hospitalised children in a high HIV prevalence area. Afr J Thoracic Crit Care Med [Internet]. 2024 Jul. 4 [cited 2024 Jul. 18];30(2):e1208. Available from:


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