Objectives: Though respiratory viruses are thought to cause substantial morbidity globally in children aged <5 years, the incidence of severe respiratory virus infections in children is unknown in India where 20% of the world's children live.
Methods: During August 2009-July 2011, prospective population-based surveillance was conducted for hospitalizations of children aged <5 years in a rural community in Haryana State. Clinical data and respiratory specimens were collected. Swabs were tested by RT-PCR for influenza and parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus, coronaviruses, and adenovirus. Average annual hospitalization incidence was calculated using census data and adjusted for hospitalizations reported to occur at non-study hospitals according to a community healthcare utilization survey.
Results: Of 245 hospitalized children, respiratory viruses were detected among 98 (40%), of whom 92 (94%) had fever or respiratory symptoms. RSV accounted for the highest virus-associated hospitalization incidence (34.6/10,000, 95% CI 26.3-44.7) and 20% of hospitalizations. There were 11.8/10,000 (95% CI 7.9-18.4) influenza-associated hospitalizations (7% of hospitalizations). RSV and influenza virus detection peaked in winter (November-February) and rainy seasons (July), respectively.
Conclusion: Respiratory viruses were associated with a substantial proportion of hospitalizations among young children in a rural Indian community. Public health research and prevention in India should consider targeting RSV and influenza in young children.
Keywords: Adenovirus; Coronavirus; Hospitalization; Human metapneumovirus; Influenza; Parainfluenza; Respiratory infections; Respiratory syncytial viruses.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.