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Vaccination key to preventing childhood pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa

Researchers at the University of Warwick, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kilifi, Kenya, have found that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) appears to be the predominant virus detected among infants and children hospitalized in Kenya with severe pneumonia, according to a study in the May 26 issue of JAMA. The contribution to this severe disease by an individual pathogen stresses the need for effective infant vaccina­tion.

The leading cause of childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa is pneumonia. “The main means for controlling disease and death due to pneumonia are infant vaccina­tion and case management. Thus, establishing the contribution to severe disease of individual pathogens and vaccine efficacy in infancy are essential to reduc­ing the burden of disease,” say James A. Berkley, F.R.C.P.C.H., of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kilifi, Kenya, and Dr James Nokes of the University of Warwick’s Department of Biological Sciences.

The University of Warwick and the Kenya Medical Research Institute researchers conducted a study to examine the viral causes of severe pneumonia among infants and children at a rural Kenyan district hospital using comprehensive and sensitive molecular di­agnostic techniques. Participants were children aged 1 day to 12 years who were (1) admitted to Kilifi District Hospital meeting World Health Organization clinical criteria for severe or very severe pneumonia; (2) presented to the hospital with mild up­per respiratory tract infection but were not admitted; or (3) were well infants and chil­dren attending for immunization. Nasal wash samples were obtained from the children and analyzed for the presence of respiratory viruses.
 
 

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