Can Some Viral Respiratory Infections Observed Before the Pandemic Announcement Be Related to SARS-CoV-2?

Alpaydın A. Ö., APPAK Ö., GEZER N. S., YİĞİT S., Karayazı D. G., KURUÜZÜM Z., ...More

Turkish Thoracic Journal, vol.24, no.2, pp.91-95, 2023 (Scopus) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.5152/thoracrespract.2023.22187
  • Journal Name: Turkish Thoracic Journal
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.91-95
  • Keywords: 2019 novel coronavirus disease, non-severe acute respiratory syndrome, pandemic, polymerase chain reaction, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


OBJECTIVE: There have been doubts that SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating before the first case was announced. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility of COVID-19 in some cases diagnosed to be viral respiratory tract infection in the pre-pandemic period in our center. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Patients who were admitted to our hospital’s pulmonary diseases, infectious diseases, and intensive care clinics with the diagnosis of viral respiratory system infection within a 6-month period between October 2019 and March 12, 2020, were screened. Around 248 archived respiratory samples from these patients were analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid by real-time-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The clinical, laboratory, and radiological data of the patients were evaluated. RESULTS: The mean age of the study group was 47.5 (18-89 years); 103 (41.5%) were female and 145 (58.4%) were male. The most common presenting symptoms were cough in 51.6% (n = 128), fever in 42.7% (n = 106), and sputum in 27.0% (n = 67). Sixty-nine percent (n = 172) of the patients were pre-diagnosed to have upper respiratory tract infection and 22.0% (n = 55) had pneumonia, one-third of the patients (n = 84, 33.8%) were followed in the service. Respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV-2 were detected in 123 (49.6%) patients. Influenza virus (31.9%), rhinovirus (10.5%), and human metapneumovirus (6.5%) were the most common pathogens, while none of the samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Findings that could be significant for COVID-19 pneumonia were detected in the thorax computed tomography of 7 cases. CONCLUSION: The negative SARS-CoV-2 real-time-quantitative polymerase chain reaction results in the respiratory samples of the cases followed up in our hospital for viral pneumonia during the pre-pandemic period support that there was no COVID-19 among our cases during the period in question. However, if clinical suspicion arises, both SARS and non-SARS respiratory viral pathogens should be considered for differential diagnosis.