Respiratory infections are one of the most frequent reasons for medical consultations in children. In low resource settings such as in Lao People's Democratic Republic, knowledge gaps and the dearth of laboratory capacity to support differential diagnosis may contribute to antibiotic overuse. We studied the etiology, temporal trends, and genetic diversity of viral respiratory infections in children to provide evidence for prevention and treatment guidelines. From September 2014 to October 2015, throat swabs and nasopharyngeal aspirates from 445 children under 10 years old with symptoms of acute respiratory infection were collected at the Children Hospital in Vientiane. Rapid antigen tests were performed for influenza A and B and respiratory syncytial virus. Real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCRs) were performed to detect 16 viruses. Influenza infections were detected with a higher sensitivity using PCR than with the rapid antigen test. By RT-PCR screening, at least one pathogen could be identified for 71.7% of cases. Human rhinoviruses were most frequently detected (29.9%), followed by influenza A and B viruses combined (15.9%). We identify and discuss the seasonality of some of the infections. Altogether these data provide a detailed characterization of respiratory pathogens in Lao children and we provide recommendations for vaccination and further studies.
Keywords: Lao PDR; acute respiratory infections; children; human metapneumovirus; influenza virus; respiratory syncytial virus.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Medical Virology Published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.