Methods: An observational study was conducted among 3935 patients presenting with acute upper respiratory illnesses in the ambulatory settings between 2012 and 2014.
Results: The VP4/VP2 gene was genotyped from all 976 RV-positive specimens, where the predominance of RV-A (49%) was observed, followed by RV-C (38%) and RV-B (13%). A significant regression in median nasopharyngeal viral load (VL) (P < .001) was observed, from 883 viral copies/µL at 1-2 days after symptom onset to 312 viral copies/µL at 3-4 days and 158 viral copies/µL at 5-7 days, before declining to 35 viral copies/µL at ≥8 days. In comparison with RV-A (median VL, 217 copies/µL) and RV-B (median VL, 275 copies/µL), RV-C-infected subjects produced higher VL (505 copies/µL; P < .001). Importantly, higher RV VL (median, 348 copies/µL) was associated with more severe respiratory symptoms (Total Symptom Severity Score ≥17, P = .017). A total of 83 phylogenetic-based transmission clusters were identified in the population. It was observed that the relative humidity was the strongest environmental predictor of RV seasonality in the tropical climate.
Conclusions: Our findings underline the role of VL in increasing disease severity attributed to RV-C infection, and unravel the factors that fuel the population transmission dynamics of RV.