Drivers of respiratory syncytial virus seasonal epidemics in children under 5 years in Kilifi, coastal Kenya

Wambua J, Munywoki PK, Coletti P, Nyawanda BO, Murunga N, Nokes DJ, Hens N
PLoS One. 2022;17

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes significant childhood morbidity and mortality in the developing world. The determinants of RSV seasonality are of importance in designing interventions. They are poorly understood in tropical and sub-tropical regions in low- and middle-income countries. Our study utilized long-term surveillance data on cases of RSV associated with severe or very severe pneumonia in children aged 1 day to 59 months admitted to the Kilifi County Hospital. A generalized additive model was used to investigate the association between RSV admissions and meteorological variables (maximum temperature, rainfall, absolute humidity); weekly number of births within the catchment population; and school term dates. Furthermore, a time-series-susceptible-infected-recovered (TSIR) model was used to reconstruct an empirical transmission rate which was used as a dependent variable in linear regression and generalized additive models with meteorological variables and school term dates. Maximum temperature, absolute humidity, and weekly number of births were significantly associated with RSV activity in the generalized additive model. Results from the TSIR model indicated that maximum temperature and absolute humidity were significant factors. Rainfall and school term did not yield significant relationships. Our study indicates that meteorological parameters and weekly number of births potentially play a role in the RSV seasonality in this region. More research is required to explore the underlying mechanisms underpinning the observed relationships.