Influenza-like illness surveillance on the California-Mexico border, 2004-2009

Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2012 Sep;6(5):358-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00316.x. Epub 2011 Dec 30.


Background: Since 2004, the Naval Health Research Center, with San Diego and Imperial counties, has collaborated with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct respiratory disease surveillance in the US-Mexico border region. In 2007, the Secretariat of Health, Mexico and the Institute of Public Health of Baja California joined the collaboration.

Objectives: The identification of circulating respiratory pathogens in respiratory specimens from patients with influenza-like illness (ILI).

Methods: Demographic, symptom information and respiratory swabs were collected from enrollees who met the case definition for ILI. Specimens underwent PCR testing and culture in virology and bacteriology.

Results: From 2004 through 2009, 1855 persons were sampled. Overall, 36% of the participants had a pathogen identified. The most frequent pathogen was influenza (25%), with those aged 6-15 years the most frequently affected. In April 2009, a young female participant from Imperial County, California, was among the first documented cases of 2009 H1N1. Additional pathogens included influenza B, adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, enterovirus, herpes simplex virus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Streptococcus pyogenes.

Conclusions: The US-Mexico border is one of the busiest in the world, with a large number of daily crossings. Due to its traffic, this area is an ideal location for surveillance sites. We identified a pathogen in 36% of the specimens tested, with influenza A the most common pathogen. A number of other viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens were identified. An understanding of the incidence of respiratory pathogens in border populations is useful for development of regional vaccination and disease prevention responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology*
  • Virus Cultivation
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Virus Diseases / virology*
  • Viruses / classification*
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • Young Adult