Research Project Details

Name: RhinAir - Rhinovirus Environmental related Epidemiology
Abstract: Picornaviruses are among the smallest and most common viruses affecting Humans, with extremely variable pathological Outcomes. Infection severity varies widely from the extremely common and mild cold associated rhinovirus infection to the sometimes extremely severe pathology associated with Polio infections. The most frequent Human related Picornaviruses are however as common as mild in severity with infections that resolve spontaneously, as is the case of Enteroviruses and rhinoviruses. Nevertheless, its effect in human health and well-being is significant, not because of the disease severity, but because of its economic and social burden. In the case of Enteroviruses, the clinical signs and symptoms are undistinguishable from bacterial or herpes associated meningitis frequently causing unnecessary hospitalizations and antibiotic administrations. On the other hand, the frequency of the common cold, usually albeit not always associated with rhinovirus infection is a major cause of school and job absenteeism, with the it?s associated economic burden. Additionally, it is known that even this very mild infection can have a significant impact on the health of particularly vulnerable populations such as older individuals, patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Asthmatic Patients. Since these infections seem to be the last stage of a frequent environmental viral exposure and its consequent nasal colonization, it is important to understand the factors that facilitate the transition from the colonization to the infection stages. Recent studies associating environmental factors and most importantly environmental pollution indicators to the immune status or at least immunological reactivity provide an interesting mechanism by which environmental factor may influence the colonization and/or colonization to infection transition in the exposed individuals. Thus, in the present project we aim at using the extreme sensitivity of Real-Time-PCR to detect nasal rhinovirus colonization in: 1) Young healthy individuals; 2)Individuals of over 70 years old living in elderly homes; 3) Asthmatic young patients and; 4) Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease. The nasal colonization will be correlated to weather and outdoor air quality. Selected parameters of Indoor air quality will also be measured for patients confined to in house facilities.
Financed by: Mecenato de BioPortugal
Participating Institutions: FP-ENAS
Researchers: José Cabeda, Nelson Barros