Since its first isolation in 2005, Human Bocavirus (HBoV) has been repeatedly associated with acute respiratory tract infections, although its role in pathogenicity remains unclear due to high co-infection rates.
To assess HBoV prevalence and associated disease in a cohort of respiratory patients in the East Midlands, UK between 2015 and 2019.
We initially investigated the undiagnosed burden of HBoV in a retrospective paediatric cohort sampled between 2015 and 2017 using an in-house PCR assay. HBoV was subsequently incorporated into the standard respiratory diagnostic pathway and we audited a calendar year of HBoV positive results between 2018 and 2019.
Our retrospective PCR screening of previously routine diagnostic-negative samples from juvenile patients identified a 9% (n = 30) prevalence of HBoV type 1. These apparent HBoV1 mono-infections were frequently associated with respiratory tract symptoms, often severe requiring ventilation, oxygen and steroid intervention with 31% (n = 9) of individuals requiring intensive care. When HBoV screening was subsequently adopted into the routine respiratory diagnostic pathway, year-round infections were observed in both children and adults peaking in February. 185 of 9098 (2.03%) individuals were found to be HBoV positive with children aged 12-24 months the principally infected group. However, HBoV infection was also observed in patients aged over 60, predominantly as a mono-infection. 23% of the 185 unique patients were HBoV monoinfected and persistent low-level DNA positivity was observed in 15 individuals up to 6-months after initial presentation.
HBoV1 is a prevalent respiratory infection in the UK capable of causing serious monoinfections.
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