Acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in children. The viral etiology of ARTIs was investigated over 3 years (October 2012-September 2015) in 2575 children in Parma, Italy, using indirect immunofluorescent staining of respiratory samples for viral antigens, cell culture, and molecular assays. Respiratory viruses were detected in 1299 cases (50.44%); 1037 (79.83%) were single infections and 262 (20.17%) mixed infections. The highest infection incidence was in children aged >6 months to ≤3 years (57.36%). Human respiratory syncytial virus (27.12%) and human adenovirus (23.58%) were the most common viruses identified. The virus detection rate decreased significantly between the first and third epidemic season (53.9% vs. 43.05%, P < 0.0001). The simultaneous use of different diagnostic tools allowed us to identify a putative viral etiology in half the children examined and to provide an estimate of the epidemiology and seasonality of respiratory viruses associated with ARTIs.
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