Colosia AD, Yang J, Hillson E, Mauskopf J, Copley-Merriman C, Shinde V, Stoddard J. The epidemiology of medically attended respiratory syncytial virus in older adults in the United States: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2017 Aug 10;12(8):e0182321. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182321

OBJECTIVE: This review was undertaken to assess the historical evidence of the disease incidence and burden of laboratory-confirmed respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in medically attended older adults.

DESIGN:  A qualitative systematic literature review was performed; no statistical synthesis of the data was planned, in anticipation of expected heterogeneity across studies in this population.

METHODS: A literature search of PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library was conducted for studies of medically attended RSV in older adults (≥ 50 years) published in the last 15 years. Two independent reviewers screened titles and abstracts based on predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria.

RESULTS:  From 10 studies reporting incidence proportions, RSV may be the causative agent in up to 12% of medically attended acute respiratory illness in older adults unselected for comorbidities, with variations in clinical setting and by year. In multiple studies, medically attended–RSV incidence among older adults not selected for having underlying health conditions increased with increasing age. Of prospectively followed lung transplant recipients, 16% tested positive for RSV. In hospitalized adults with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases, 8% to 13% were infected with RSV during winter seasons (8%-13%) or metapneumovirus season (8%). Hospitalizations for RSV in older adults typically lasted 3 to 6 days, with substantial proportions requiring intensive care unit admission and mechanical ventilation. Among older adults hospitalized with RSV, the mortality rate was 6% to 8%.

CONCLUSIONS:  Protection of older adults against RSV could reduce respiratory-related burden, especially as age increases and the prevalence of comorbidities (especially cardiopulmonary comorbidities) grows.

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