The unrecognized burden of influenza in young Kenyan children, 2008-2012

Meredith L McMorrow, Gideon O Emukule, Henry N Njuguna, Godfrey Bigogo, Joel M Montgomery, Bryan Nyawanda, Allan Audi, Robert F Breiman, Mark A Katz, Leonard Cosmas, Lilian W Waiboci, Jazmin Duque, Marc-Alain Widdowson, Joshua A Mott

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Influenza-associated disease burden among children in tropical sub-Saharan Africa is not well established, particularly outside of the 2009 pandemic period. We estimated the burden of influenza in children aged 0-4 years through population-based surveillance for influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute lower respiratory tract illness (ALRI). Household members meeting ILI or ALRI case definitions were referred to health facilities for evaluation and collection of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs for influenza testing by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Estimates were adjusted for health-seeking behavior and those with ILI and ALRI who were not tested. During 2008-2012, there were 9,652 person-years of surveillance among children aged 0-4 years. The average adjusted rate of influenza-associated hospitalization was 4.3 (95% CI 3.0-6.0) per 1,000 person-years in children aged 0-4 years. Hospitalization rates were highest in the 0-5 month and 6-23 month age groups, at 7.6 (95% CI 3.2-18.2) and 8.4 (95% CI 5.4-13.0) per 1,000 person-years, respectively. The average adjusted rate of influenza-associated medically attended (inpatient or outpatient) ALRI in children aged 0-4 years was 17.4 (95% CI 14.2-19.7) per 1,000 person-years. Few children who had severe laboratory-confirmed influenza were clinically diagnosed with influenza by the treating clinician in the inpatient (0/33, 0%) or outpatient (1/109, 0.9%) settings. Influenza-associated hospitalization rates from 2008-2012 were 5-10 times higher than contemporaneous U.S. estimates. Many children with danger signs were not hospitalized; thus, influenza-associated severe disease rates in Kenyan children are likely higher than hospital-based estimates suggest.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e0138272
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Influenza, Human/epidemiology
  • Inpatients
  • Kenya/epidemiology
  • Male
  • Outpatients
  • Pandemics
  • Population Surveillance


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