Identification of unknown viruses causing respiratory disease in children (2009–2011)
Respiratory illnesses are the major cause of usage at every level of healthcare services. At the Royal Children's Hospital, these illnesses are the major cause of hospital presentation and when major viruses, such as influenza and RSV, are circulating, result in an overcrowded and overwhelmed emergency department. Using molecular methods to diagnose a causative virus results in shorter admissions, fewer unnecessary investigations and less use of inappropriate antibiotics and other treatments. Diagnosing the cause of these illnesses reduces the distress they cause and saves money. At present there remains a significant diagnostic gap with 20-30% of such illnesses having no germ identified as a cause despite exhaustive testing.