Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common viral cause of pediatric bronchiolitis and pneumonia worldwide. Risk factors for high mortality and prolonged morbidity after RSV infection include premature birth, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, congenital heart disease, and Down syndrome. However, some previously healthy, full-term children who are infected with RSV also require hospitalization and even experience severe sequelae or death.
In this report, we present the case of an RSV-associated death of a child who was born at full-term and developed normally up to the age of 2 years old. Cardiopulmonary arrest occurred within 3 days after the onset of symptoms, which included cough and high fever. Complete brain edema was prominent, and encephalopathy was developing. Viral antigen detection and microbiome analyses of oral swab and nasopharyngeal aspirate specimens verified an RSV infection, while bacterial culture of blood specimens yielded negative results. The RSV strain detected in this patient was subtyped as RSVB9, and no mutation was found in the six antigenic sites for targeted drugs or vaccines.
The patient had a severe infection associated with RSV, which was very likely the cause of her central nervous system infection and acute neurological complications.