Surveillance of respiratory viruses in the outpatient setting in rural coastal Kenya: baseline epidemiological observations

Wellcome Open Res. 2018 Jul 25:3:89. doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.14662.1. eCollection 2018.


Background: Endemic and seasonally recurring respiratory viruses are a major cause of disease and death globally. The burden is particularly severe in developing countries. Improved understanding of the source of infection, pathways of spread and persistence in communities would be of benefit in devising intervention strategies. Methods: We report epidemiological data obtained through surveillance of respiratory viruses at nine outpatient health facilities within the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System, Kilifi County, coastal Kenya, between January and December 2016. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from individuals of all ages presenting with acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms (up to 15 swabs per week per facility) and screened for 15 respiratory viruses using real-time PCR. Paediatric inpatient surveillance at Kilifi County Hospital for respiratory viruses provided comparative data. Results: Over the year, 5,647 participants were sampled, of which 3,029 (53.7%) were aged <5 years. At least one target respiratory virus was detected in 2,380 (42.2%) of the samples; the most common being rhinovirus 18.6% (1,050), influenza virus 6.9% (390), coronavirus 6.8% (387), parainfluenza virus 6.6% (371), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) 3.9% (219) and adenovirus 2.7% (155). Virus detections were higher among <5-year-olds compared to older children and adults (50.3% vs 32.7%, respectively; χ 2(1) =177.3, P=0.0001). Frequency of viruses did not differ significantly by facility (χ 2(8) =13.38, P=0.072). However, prevalence was significantly higher among inpatients than outpatients in <5-year-olds for RSV (22.1% vs 6.0%; χ 2(1) = 159.4, P=0.0001), and adenovirus (12.4% vs 4.4%, χ 2(1) =56.6, P=0.0001). Conclusions: Respiratory virus infections are common amongst ARI outpatients in this coastal Kenya setting, particularly in young children. Rhinovirus predominance warrants further studies on the health and socio-economic implications. RSV and adenovirus were more commonly associated with severe disease. Further analysis will explore epidemiological transmission patterns with the addition of virus sequence data.

Keywords: Outpatient; Respiratory viruses; Surveillance; Real-time PCR; Nasopharyngeal samples; Coastal Kenya.