The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other viral respiratory pathogens in emergency department (ED) patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). COPD patients presenting to the ED with <10 days of AECOPD symptoms were eligible. We used PCR to test nasal swabs for common viral respiratory pathogens. We completed viral studies on 76 patients from two EDs. Patients had a mean age of 72 years, and were 68% male, 99% white, and 29% current smokers. Influenza vaccination was reported by 87%. Viruses were detected in 19 of 76 patients (25%). These included RSV A (2) and B (4); parainfluenza 1 (1), 2 (0), and 3 (2); influenza A (3) and B (0); rhinovirus (4); and human metapneumovirus (3). A putative viral etiology was identified in 25% of AECOPD presenting for emergency care, of which approximately one-third were RSV-related.
- Emergency department