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The Interaction Between Respiratory Viruses and Pathogenic Bacteria in the Upper Respiratory Tract of Asymptomatic Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Children

Moore, Hannah C. BSc(Hons), GradDipClinEpi*; Jacoby, Peter MSc*; Taylor, Amanda BAppSc; Harnett, Gerry PhD; Bowman, Jacinta BAppSc; Riley, Thomas V. PhD†‡; Reuter, Kelly BHlthSc*; Smith, David W. FRCPA†‡§; Lehmann, Deborah MSc*on behalf of the Kalgoorlie Otitis Media Research Project Team

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: June 2010 - Volume 29 - Issue 6 - p 540-545
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181d067cb
Original Studies

Background: Associations between respiratory viruses and the bacterial pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis may be important in the pathogenesis of otitis media (OM). However, data on asymptomatic identification rates of respiratory viruses are limited, particularly in Indigenous populations, who suffer a high burden of OM.

Methods: We describe the identification of respiratory viruses alone and in combination with pathogenic OM bacteria in 1006 nasopharyngeal aspirates collected from asymptomatic Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in a longitudinal community-based cohort study in rural Western Australia.

Results: Viruses were identified in 42% of samples from Aboriginal and 32% from non-Aboriginal children. Rhinoviruses were the most frequently identified virus with higher identification rates in Aboriginal (23.6%) than non-Aboriginal children (16.5%; P = 0.003). Rhinoviruses were associated with H. influenzae (odds ratio [OR], 2.24; 95% CI, 1.24–4.07 for Aboriginal children) and M. catarrhalis (OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.05–3.57 for Aboriginal children). Adenoviruses were positively associated with H. influenzae in Aboriginal children (OR, 3.30; 95% CI, 1.19–9.09) and M. catarrhalis in non-Aboriginal children (OR, 5.75; 95% CI, 1.74–19.23), but negatively associated with S. pneumoniae in Aboriginal children (OR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.18–0.84).

Conclusions: We found a high identification rate of rhinoviruses and adenoviruses in asymptomatic children. The associations between these viruses and OM bacteria have implications for preventive strategies targeted at specific pathogens.


From the *Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; †Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Perth, Australia; ‡Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; and §Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

Accepted for publication December 8, 2009.

Supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant 212044 and 2 Healthway Grants (6028 and 10564). Supported by National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant 572590 (to H.M.). Supported by National Health and Medical Research Council Program Grant 353514 (to P.J. and D.L.)

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Address for correspondence: Hannah Moore, BSc(Hons), GradDipClinEpi, Division of Population Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, P. O. Box 855, West Perth WA, Australia 6872. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.