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Human coronavirus OC43 causes influenza-like illness in residents and staff of aged-care facilities in Melbourne, Australia

  • C. J. BIRCH (a1), H. J. CLOTHIER (a2) (a3), A. SECCULL (a2), T. TRAN (a1), M. C. CATTON (a1), S. B. LAMBERT (a3) (a4) and J. D. DRUCE (a1)...

Three outbreaks of respiratory illness associated with human coronavirus HCoV-OC43 infection occurred in geographically unrelated aged-care facilities in Melbourne, Australia during August and September 2002. On clinical and epidemiological grounds the outbreaks were first thought to be caused by influenza virus. HCoV-OC43 was detected by RT–PCR in 16 out of 27 (59%) specimens and was the only virus detected at the time of sampling. Common clinical manifestations were cough (74%), rhinorrhoea (59%) and sore throat (53%). Attack rates and symptoms were similar in residents and staff across the facilities. HCoV-OC43 was also detected in surveillance and diagnostic respiratory samples in the same months. These outbreaks establish this virus as a cause of morbidity in aged-care facilities and add to increasing evidence of the significance of coronavirus infections.

Corresponding author
Ms. H. Clothier, Epidemiology Unit, Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, 10 Wreckyn Street, North Melbourne, Victoria 3051, Australia. (Email:
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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