Respiratory Viruses

Viral respiratory tract infections are the most common diseases affecting humans worldwide. Respiratory viruses can be associated with both self-limiting upper respiratory tract infections (eg, the common cold) and more severe lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) (eg, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonitis, pneumonia).  LRTIs are a major cause of hospitalization, morbidity, and mortality in infants and the elderly and are associated with significant disease burden.  

Laboratory testing to identify the specific pathogen causing the respiratory illness is only necessary if clinical management would be altered; for example, testing for the influenza virus during the flu season can help to determine whether antiviral treatment should be administered.  Respiratory virus testing may also be indicated in certain populations (eg, infants, immunocompromised persons, the elderly) to help with patient management, epidemiologic surveillance, and infection control measures.  Laboratory testing options include rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs), direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and viral culture.

Tabs Content
Content Review: 
February 2019

Last Update: October 2019