Outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus subtype ON1 among children during COVID-19 pandemic in Southern Taiwan

Ting Yu Lin, Hsin Chi, Cheng Yen Kuo, Huey Pin Tsai, Jen Ren Wang, Ching Chuan Liu, Ching Fen Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The regional respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) outbreak in southern Taiwan in late 2020 followed the surge of RSV cases in the national surveillance data and displayed distinct clinical features. This study investigated RSV epidemiology in the most recent five years and compared the clinical manifestations of this outbreak with non-outbreak period. Methods: Medical records of RSV-infected children at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital from January 2016 to December 2020 were retrospectively retrieved from hospital-based electronic medical database. Cases of RSV infection were identified by RSV antigen positive and/or RSV isolated from respiratory specimens. The demographic, clinical presentations, and laboratory data were recorded. The RSV isolates in 2020 was sequenced for phylogenetic analysis. Results: Overall, 442 RSV-infected cases were retrieved and 42.1% (186 cases) clustered in late 2020. The 2020 outbreak started in September, peaked in November, and lasted for 3 months. 2020 RSV-infected children were older (2.3 ± 2.2 years vs. 1.0 ± 1.0 years), more likely to be diagnosed with bronchopneumonia (57.5% vs. 31.6%), but also had a lower hospitalization rate, shorter hospital stay, less oxygen use, and less respiratory distress than those in 2016–2019 (all p value < 0.05). The RSV isolates in 2020 belonged to RSV-A subtype ON1 but were phylogenetically distinct from the ON1 strains prevalent in Taiwan previously. Conclusion: The 2020 RSV outbreak was led by the novel RSV-A subtype ON1 variant with clinical manifestations distinct from previous years. Continuous surveillance of new emerging variants of respiratory viruses in the post-pandemic era is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1179
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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