Severe acute respiratory illness surveillance for influenza in Kenya: patient characteristics and lessons learnt

Maryanne N Gachari, Linus Ndegwa, Gideon O Emukule, Lily Kirui, Rosalia Kalani, Bonventure Juma, Lilian Mayieka, Peter Kinuthia, Marc-Alain Widdowson, Sandra S Chaves

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BACKGROUND: We describe the epidemiology and clinical features of Kenyan patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza compared with those testing negative and discuss the potential contribution of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) surveillance in monitoring a broader range of respiratory pathogens.

METHODS: We described demographic and clinical characteristics of SARI cases among children (<18 years) and adults, separately. We compared disease severity (clinical features and treatment) of hospitalized influenza positive versus negative cases and explored independent predictors of death among SARI cases using a multivariable logistic regression model.

RESULTS: From January 2014 to December 2018, 11,166 persons were hospitalized with SARI and overall positivity for influenza was ~10%. There were 10,742 (96%) children (<18 years)-median age of 1 year, interquartile range (IQR = 6 months, 2 years). Only 424 (4%) of the SARI cases were adults (≥18 years), with median age of 38 years (IQR 28 years, 52 years). There was no difference in disease severity comparing influenza positive and negative cases among children. Children hospitalized with SARI who had an underlying illness had greater odds of in-hospital death compared with those without (adjusted odds ratio 2.11 95% CI 1.09-4.07). No further analysis was done among adults due to the small sample size.

CONCLUSION: Kenya's sentinel surveillance for SARI mainly captures data on younger children. Hospital-based platforms designed to monitor influenza viruses and associated disease burden may be adapted and expanded to other respiratory viruses to inform public health interventions. Efforts should be made to capture adults as part of routine respiratory surveillance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfluenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)740-748
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Adult
  • Child
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Influenza, Human/complications
  • Kenya/epidemiology
  • Orthomyxoviridae
  • Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Sentinel Surveillance


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