High detection frequency and viral loads of human rhinovirus species A to C in fecal samples; diagnostic and clinical implications

H. Harvala, C.L. McIntyre, N.J. McLeish, J. Kondracka, J. Palmer, P. Molyneaux, R. Gunson, S. Bennett, K. Templeton, P. Simmonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human rhinoviruses (HRVs) can be divided into three species; HRV-A to HRV-C. Up to 148 different HRV (sero)types have been identified to date. Because of sequence similarity between 5'-NCR of HRVs and enteroviruses (EVs), it is problematic to design EV-specific RT-PCR assays. The aims of this study were to assess the rate of false-detection of different rhinoviruses by EV RT-PCR, and to evaluate the diagnostic and clinical significance of such cross-reactivity. In vitro RNA transcripts of HRV A-C created from cDNA templates were quantified spectrophotometrically. Six hundred twenty-one stool samples screened as part of routine diagnostic for EV, 17 EV-positive stool samples referred for typing, 288 stool samples submitted for gastroenteritis investigations, and 1,500 CSF samples were included in the study. EV-specific RT-PCR detected RNA transcripts of HRV-A1b, HRV-B14, and HRV-Crpat18 but with 10-1,000 reduced sensitivity compared to EV transcripts. Screening fecal samples by EV RT-PCR identified 13 positive samples identified subsequently as rhinoviruses; a further 26 HRV-positive samples were identified by nested HRV RT-PCR. All individuals were hospitalized and presented mostly with diarrhea. A total of 26 HRV types were identified (HRV-A: 46%; HRV-B: 13%; HRV-C: 41%). Results confirm that EV-specific RT-PCR can detect HRVs, and at a practical level, identify potential problems of interpretation if fecal samples are used for surrogate screening in cases of suspected viral meningitis. High detection frequencies (10%) and viral loads in stool samples provide evidence for enteric replication of HRV, and its association with enteric disease requires further etiological studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-542
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • human rhinovirus
  • HRV-A to C
  • gastroenteritis
  • diagnostic
  • enterovirus

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