Hong Kong Med J 2009;15(Suppl 4):S13-5
Occult respiratory viral infections in coronial autopsies: a pilot project
JM Nicholls, JSM Peiris, KH Chan, LM Poon, SLP Beh
Department of Pathology, The University of Hong Kong
1. The presence of clinically undiagnosed and untreated RNA respiratory viral infections in autopsies performed under the Hong Kong coronial system in 2003 was investigated.
2. There was a relatively low incidence (11/130, 8.4%) of polymerase chain reaction– positive cases with respiratory syncytial virus and NL63 accounting for four and seven cases, respectively. Immunohistochemical staining did not show any evidence of viral antigen.
3. Untreated viral infections may contribute to a minority of sudden respiratory deaths in Hong Kong, but more attention should be focused on the role of newly discovered agents such as NL63 on population mortality.
4. Occult viral infections appear to play a minor role compared to bacterial disease.