Virological Surveillance of Influenza-Like Illness Among Children in Ghana, 2008–2010

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Background. The global annual attack rate for influenza is estimated to be 10%–20% in children, although limited information exists for Africa. In 2007, Ghana initiated influenza surveillance by routine monitoring of acute respiratory illness to obtain data on circulating strains. We describe influenza surveillance in children <11 years old who had influenza-like illness (ILI) from January 2008 to December 2010.

Methods. Oropharyngeal swabs from pediatric outpatients with ILI attending any of 22 health facilities across the country were submitted. We tested swabs for influenza virus using molecular assays, virus isolation, and hemagglutination assays.

Results. Of the 2810 swabs, 636 (23%) were positive for influenza virus. The percentage of positives by gender was similar. The proportion of ILI cases positive for influenza increased with age from 11% (31/275) in infants (aged 0–1 years) to 31% (377/1219) among children aged 5–10 years (P < .001). The majority of cases were influenza A (90%), of which 60% were influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. In all 3 years, influenza activity appeared slightly higher during May through July.

Conclusions. During the 3 years of influenza surveillance in Ghana, children aged <11 years bore a high burden of influenza-associated ILI.

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