Articles

Viruses and bacteria in the etiology of the common cold.

Author

Makela MJ, Puhakka T, Ruuskanen O

Date

2/1998

Journal

J Clin Microbiol

Abstract

Two hundred young adults with common colds were studied during a 10- month period. Virus culture, antigen detection, PCR, and serology with paired samples were used to identify the infection. Viral etiology was established for 138 of the 200 patients (69%). Rhinoviruses were detected in 105 patients, coronavirus OC43 or 229E infection was detected in 17, influenza A or B virus was detected in 12, and single infections with parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and enterovirus were found in 14 patients. Evidence for bacterial infection was found in seven patients. Four patients had a rise in antibodies against Chlamydia pneumoniae, one had a rise in antibodies against Haemophilus influenzae, one had a rise in antibodies against Streptococcus pneumoniae, and one had immunoglobulin M antibodies against Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The results show that although approximately 50% of episodes of the common cold were caused by rhinoviruses, the etiology can vary depending on the epidemiological situation with regard to circulating viruses. Bacterial infections were rare, supporting the concept that the common cold is almost exclusively a viral disease.