Acute respiratory tract infections (aRTIs) are common. They occur throughout the year, and are typically associated with a seasonal increase during the autumn/winter months.
A wide range of bacteria and viruses cause aRTIs; viruses being the most common aetiology. Commonly spread by the airborne route and by touching surfaces that have come into contact with infectious aerosols and respiratory droplets, aRTIs are highly contagious and reinfection is common.
Acute respiratory tract infections are a significant burden on healthcare services. In the December issue of Pathology in Practice, Carolyne Horner considers an alternative approach to the diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infections, one in which a change in human immune response is the focus of detection rather than the traditional pathogen-specific approach.