Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Estimated incidence of influenza-virus-associated severe pneumonia in children in El Salvador, 2008–2010

Wilfrido Clara, Julio Armero, David Rodriguez, Celina de Lozano, Luis Bonilla, Percy Minaya, Rafael Chacón, Jorge Jara, Natalia Blanco, Marc-Alain Widdowson, Joseph Bresee, Xiyan Xu, Alexander Klimov, Eduardo Azziz-Baumgartner & Nivaldo Linares-Perez

Objective

To estimate the incidence of influenza-virus-associated severe pneumonia among Salvadorian children aged < 5 years.

Methods

Data on children aged < 5 years admitted with severe pneumonia to a sentinel hospital in the western region were collected weekly. Nasal and oropharyngeal swab specimens were collected from a convenience sample of case patients for respiratory virus testing. A health-care utilization survey was conducted in the hospital catchment area to determine the proportion of residents who sought care at the hospital. The incidence of influenza-virus-associated severe pneumonia among all Salvadorian children aged < 5 years was estimated from surveillance and census data, with adjustment for health-care utilization. Influenza virus strains were characterized by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine their correspondence with northern and southern hemisphere influenza vaccine formulations.

Findings

Physicians identified 2554 cases of severe pneumonia. Samples from 608 cases were tested for respiratory viruses and 37 (6%) were positive for influenza virus. The estimated incidence of influenza-virus-associated severe pneumonia was 3.2 cases per 1000 person–years (95% confidence interval, CI: 2.8–3.7) overall, 1.5 cases per 1000 person–years (95% CI: 1.0–2.0) during 2008, 7.6 cases per 1000 person–years (95% CI: 6.5–8.9) during 2009 and 0.6 cases per 1000 person–years (95% CI: 0.3–1.0) during 2010. Northern and southern hemisphere vaccine formulations matched influenza virus strains isolated during 2008 and 2010.

Conclusion

Influenza-virus-associated severe pneumonia occurred frequently among young Salvadorian children during 2008–2010. Antigens in northern and southern hemisphere influenza vaccine formulations corresponded to circulating strains.

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