BACKGROUND Rhinoviruses (RV) are a well-established cause of
respiratory illness. RV-C has been associated with more severe
illness. We aimed to characterize and compare the clinical
presentations and disease severity of different RV type circulating in
METHOD We performed two analyses of RV-positive specimens
identified through surveillance in South Africa across all age groups.
First, RV-positive specimens identified through severe acute
respiratory illness (SARI) surveillance in four provinces was
randomly selected from 2009 to 2010 for molecular characterization.
Second, RV-positive specimens identified through SARI, influenzalike
illness (ILI) and control surveillance at hospitals and outpatient
clinics in during 2012–2013 were used to determine the association
of RV type with severe disease. Selected specimens were sequenced,
and phylogenetic analysis was performed.
RESULTS Among the 599 sequenced specimens from 2009 to 2010
and 2012 to 2013, RV-A (285, 48%) and RV-C (247, 41%) were
more commonly identified than RV-B (67, 11%), with no
seasonality and a high genetic diversity. A higher prevalence of RV
infection was identified in cases with SARI [515/962 (26%);
aRRR = 1 6; 95% CI 1 21; 2 2] and ILI [356/962 (28%);
aRRR = 1 9; 95% CI 1 37; 2 6] compared with asymptomatic
controls (91/962, 22%). There was no difference in disease severity
between the different type when comparing SARI, ILI and controls.
CONCLUSION All three type of RV were identified in South Africa,
although RV-A and RV-C were more common than RV-B. RV was
associated with symptomatic respiratory illness; however, there was
no association between RV type and disease severity.