This study reports pediatric surveillance over 3 years for human rhinovirus (HRV) at the District Hospital of Kilifi, coastal Kenya. Nasopharyngeal samples were collected from children presenting at outpatient clinic with no signs of acute respiratory infection, or with signs of upper respiratory tract infection, and from children admitted to the hospital with lower respiratory tract infection. Samples were screened by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR) and classified further to species by nucleotide sequencing of the VP4/VP2 junction. Of 441 HRV positives by real-time RT-PCR, 332 were classified to species, with 47% (155) being HRV-A, 5% (18) HRV-B, and 48% (159) HRV-C. There was no clear seasonal pattern of occurrence for any species. The species were present in similar proportions in the inpatient and outpatient sample sets, and no significant association between species distribution and the severity of lower respiratory tract infection in the inpatients could be determined. HRV sequence analysis revealed multiple but separate clusters in circulation particularly for HRV-A and HRV-C. Most HRV-C clusters were distinct from reference sequences downloaded from GenBank. In contrast, most HRV-A and HRV-B sequences clustered with either known serotypes or strains from elsewhere within Africa and other regions of the world. This first molecular epidemiological study of HRV in the region defines species distribution in accord with reports from elsewhere in the world, shows considerable strain diversity and does not identify an association between any species and disease severity.
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