Human respiratory syncytial virus diversity and epidemiology among patients hospitalized with severe respiratory illness in South Africa, 2012–2015

Background: We aimed to describe the prevalence of human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) and evaluate associations between HRSV subgroups and/or genotypes and epidemiologic characteristics and clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with severe respiratory illness (SRI). Methods: Between January 2012 and December 2015, we enrolled patients of all ages admitted to two South African hospitals with SRI in prospective hospital-based syndromic surveillance. We collected respiratory specimens and clinical and epidemiological data. Unconditional random effect multivariable logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with HRSV infection. Results: HRSV was detected in 11.2% (772/6908) of enrolled patients of which 47.0% (363/772) were under the age of 6 months. There were no differences in clinical outcomes of HRSV subgroup A-infected patients compared with HRSV subgroup B-infected patients but among patients aged <5 years, children with HRSV subgroup A were more likely be coinfected with Streptococcus pneumoniae (23/208 11.0% vs. 2/90, 2.0%; adjusted odds ratio 5.7). No significant associations of HRSV A genotypes NA1 and ON1 with specific clinical outcomes were observed. Conclusions: While HRSV subgroup and genotype dominance shifted between seasons, we showed similar genotype diversity as noted worldwide. We found no association between clinical outcomes and HRSV subgroups or genotypes.
human respiratory syncytial virus, severe respiratory illness, South Africa