Human bocavirus infection in Belgian children with respiratory tract disease

  • Vanessa Verbeke
  • Marijke Reynders
  • Katelijne Floré
  • Wouter Vandewal
  • Sara Debulpaep
  • Kate Sauer
  • Frederik Cardoen
  • Elizaveta PadalkoEmail author
Original Article


Human bocavirus (HBoV) has been detected primarily in children with acute lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD), but its occurrence, clinical profile, and role as a causative agent of RTD are not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and the potential clinical relevance of HBoV. Using molecular tests, we tested 1352 nasopharyngeal samples obtained between October 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 from children up to the age of 16 with RTD for the presence of HBoV DNA and 20 other respiratory pathogens at three different hospitals in Belgium. HBoV was detected in 77 children with a median age of 10.6 months. Consecutive samples were available for 15 HBoV-positive children and showed persistent HBoV positivity in four of them. Monoinfection was observed in six infants. Four of them were born prematurely and were infected during hospitalization at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Only one of these six monoinfected children was diagnosed with recurrent wheezing due to HBoV. This child was carried to term and had a high viral load. Coinfections, most frequently with rhinovirus (52.1%) and adenovirus (49.3%), were observed in 72 patients. In seventeen of them in which HBoV was present at high viral load or higher viral load than its copathogens, bronchi(oli)tis (n = 8), recurrent wheezing (n = 8) or episodic wheezing (n = 1) were diagnosed. Our results suggest that HBoV infection at high viral load in infants is associated with wheezing (P = 0.013, Cramer’s V = 0.613).



Bronchopulmonary dysplasia


Chronic lung disease


Continuous positive airway pressure


Quantitation cycle


C-reactive protein






Human adenoviruses


Human bocavirus


Human coronavirus 229E


Human coronavirus HKU1


Human coronavirus NL63


Human coronavirus OC43


Human metapneumovirus


Human rhinoviruses


Human parechovirus


Human parainfluenza viruses


Human respiratory syncytial virus


Human influenza A virus


Human influenza B virus


Lower respiratory tract disease


Mycoplasma pneumoniae


Not detected


Neonatal intensive care unit


Nasopharyngeal samples


Pediatric intensive care unit


Respiratory tract disease


Respiratory tract infections


Real-time PCR


Severe acute respiratory infection


University Hospital


Upper respiratory tract disease


White blood cell count


Author contributions

VV analyzed and interpreted the laboratory and clinical data for all patients of the three participating hospitals included in this study and wrote this manuscript. The microbiologists MR, KF and WV provided the laboratory data from AZ Sint-Jan and AZ Sint-Lucas Hospital of Bruges and helped with the interpretation of the data. The pediatricians SD, KS and FC provided the clinical data from the Ghent University Hospital, the AZ Sint-Jan and AZ Sint-Lucas Hospital of Bruges, respectively, and helped with the interpretation of the data. The study was supervised and coordinated by professor EP. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


No funding was received for this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the three participating hospitals under Belgian Registration number B670201836996.

Supplementary material

705_2019_4396_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (160 kb)
Online Resource 1 Protocol for DNA extraction and real-time PCR amplification (pdf, 162 kB) (PDF 160 kb)
705_2019_4396_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (95 kb)
Online Resource 2 Dataset of the 87 nasopharyngeal samples positive for human bocavirus (xls. 447 kB) (XLSX 94 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical MicrobiologyGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium
  2. 2.AZ Sint-Jan BrugesBruggeBelgium
  3. 3.AZ Sint-Lucas BrugesBruggeBelgium
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium

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