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1.  Using Pneumococcal Carriage Data to Monitor Postvaccination Changes in Invasive Disease 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(9):1488-1495.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) have been introduced worldwide. However, few developing countries have high-quality surveillance systems available for monitoring vaccine impact. We evaluated whether data from nasopharyngeal carriage studies can be used to accurately monitor post-PCV changes in the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) among children under 5 years of age. For various dates during 1991–2010, data on nasopharyngeal pneumococcal carriage and on IPD before and after administration of 7-valent PCV (PCV7) were available from England and Wales, the Netherlands, the Navajo and White Mountain Apache American Indian populations, and the US states of Massachusetts and Alaska. We estimated the change in carriage prevalence for each serotype in each study and then either calculated the average change (inverse variance-weighted) among vaccine and nonvaccine serotypes (model 1) or used mixed-effects models to estimate the change for each serotype individually, pooling serotype data within or between studies (models 2 and 3). We then multiplied these values by the proportion of IPD caused by each serotype during the pre-PCV7 period to obtain an estimate of post-PCV7 disease incidence. Model 1 accurately captured overall changes in IPD incidence following PCV7 introduction for most studies, while the more detailed models, models 2 and 3, were less accurate. Carriage data can be used in this simple model to estimate post-PCV changes in IPD incidence.
PMCID: PMC3813314  PMID: 24013204
carriage; conjugate vaccine, pneumococcal; pneumococcus; surveillance; vaccine effectiveness; vaccines
2.  Additional Diagnostic Yield of Adding Serology to PCR in Diagnosing Viral Acute Respiratory Infections in Kenyan Patients 5 Years of Age and Older 
The role of serology in the setting of PCR-based diagnosis of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) is unclear. We found that acute- and convalescent-phase paired-sample serologic testing increased the diagnostic yield of naso/oropharyngeal swabs for influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus, adenovirus, and parainfluenza viruses beyond PCR by 0.4% to 10.7%. Although still limited for clinical use, serology, along with PCR, can maximize etiologic diagnosis in epidemiologic studies.
PMCID: PMC3535781  PMID: 23114699
3.  High Prevalence of Rickettsia africae Variants in Amblyomma variegatum Ticks from Domestic Mammals in Rural Western Kenya: Implications for Human Health 
Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases  2014;14(10):693-702.
Tick-borne spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsioses are emerging human diseases caused by obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Rickettsia. Despite being important causes of systemic febrile illnesses in travelers returning from sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about the reservoir hosts of these pathogens. We conducted surveys for rickettsiae in domestic animals and ticks in a rural setting in western Kenya. Of the 100 serum specimens tested from each species of domestic ruminant 43% of goats, 23% of sheep, and 1% of cattle had immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to the SFG rickettsiae. None of these sera were positive for IgG against typhus group rickettsiae. We detected Rickettsia africae–genotype DNA in 92.6% of adult Amblyomma variegatum ticks collected from domestic ruminants, but found no evidence of the pathogen in blood specimens from cattle, goats, or sheep. Sequencing of a subset of 21 rickettsia-positive ticks revealed R. africae variants in 95.2% (20/21) of ticks tested. Our findings show a high prevalence of R. africae variants in A. variegatum ticks in western Kenya, which may represent a low disease risk for humans. This may provide a possible explanation for the lack of African tick-bite fever cases among febrile patients in Kenya.
PMCID: PMC4208559  PMID: 25325312
Ambylomma variegatum; Rickettsia africae; Tick-borne spotted fever group; African tick-bite fever
4.  The Burden of Influenza and RSV among Inpatients and Outpatients in Rural Western Kenya, 2009–2012 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105543.
In Kenya, detailed data on the age-specific burden of influenza and RSV are essential to inform use of limited vaccination and treatment resources.
We analyzed surveillance data from August 2009 to July 2012 for hospitalized severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and outpatient influenza-like illness (ILI) at two health facilities in western Kenya to estimate the burden of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Incidence rates were estimated by dividing the number of cases with laboratory-confirmed virus infections by the mid-year population. Rates were adjusted for healthcare-seeking behavior, and to account for patients who met the SARI/ILI case definitions but were not tested.
The average annual incidence of influenza-associated SARI hospitalization per 1,000 persons was 2.7 (95% CI 1.8–3.9) among children <5 years and 0.3 (95% CI 0.2–0.4) among persons ≥5 years; for RSV-associated SARI hospitalization, it was 5.2 (95% CI 4.0–6.8) among children <5 years and 0.1 (95% CI 0.0–0.2) among persons ≥5 years. The incidence of influenza-associated medically-attended ILI per 1,000 was 24.0 (95% CI 16.6–34.7) among children <5 years and 3.8 (95% CI 2.6–5.7) among persons ≥5 years. The incidence of RSV-associated medically-attended ILI was 24.6 (95% CI 17.0–35.4) among children <5 years and 0.8 (95% CI 0.3–1.9) among persons ≥5 years.
Influenza and RSV both exact an important burden in children. This highlights the possible value of influenza vaccines, and future RSV vaccines, for Kenyan children.
PMCID: PMC4136876  PMID: 25133576
6.  The impact of home-based HIV counseling and testing on care-seeking and incidence of common infectious disease syndromes in rural western Kenya 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:376.
In much of Africa, most individuals living with HIV do not know their status. Home-based counseling and testing (HBCT) leads to more HIV-infected people learning their HIV status. However, there is little data on whether knowing one’s HIV-positive status necessarily leads to uptake of HIV care, which could in turn, lead to a reduction in the prevalence of common infectious disease syndromes.
In 2008, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered HBCT to individuals (aged ≥13 years) under active surveillance for infectious disease syndromes in Lwak in rural western Kenya. HIV test results were linked to morbidity and healthcare-seeking data collected by field workers through bi-weekly home visits. We analyzed changes in healthcare seeking behaviors using proportions, and incidence (expressed as episodes per person-year) of acute respiratory illness (ARI), severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), acute febrile illness (AFI) and diarrhea among first-time HIV testers in the year before and after HBCT, stratified by their test result and if HIV-positive, whether they sought care at HIV Patient Support Centers (PSCs).
Of 9,613 individuals offered HBCT, 6,366 (66%) were first-time testers, 698 (11%) of whom were HIV-infected. One year after HBCT, 50% of HIV-infected persons had enrolled at PSCs – 92% of whom had started cotrimoxazole and 37% of those eligible for antiretroviral treatment had initiated therapy. Among HIV-infected persons enrolled in PSCs, AFI and diarrhea incidence decreased in the year after HBCT (rate ratio [RR] 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77 – 0.91 and RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.73 – 0.98, respectively). Among HIV-infected persons not attending PSCs and among HIV-uninfected persons, decreases in incidence were significantly lower. While decreases also occurred in rates of respiratory illnesses among HIV-positive persons in care, there were similar decreases in the other two groups.
Large scale HBCT enabled a large number of newly diagnosed HIV-infected persons to know their HIV status, leading to a change in care seeking behavior and ultimately a decrease in incidence of common infectious disease syndromes through appropriate treatment and care.
PMCID: PMC4107953  PMID: 25005353
Home based HIV counseling and testing; Infectious disease incidence; Healthcare seeking
7.  Results From the First Six Years of National Sentinel Surveillance for Influenza in Kenya, July 2007–June 2013 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98615.
Recent studies have shown that influenza is associated with significant disease burden in many countries in the tropics, but until recently national surveillance for influenza was not conducted in most countries in Africa.
In 2007, the Kenyan Ministry of Health with technical support from the CDC-Kenya established a national sentinel surveillance system for influenza. At 11 hospitals, for every hospitalized patient with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), and for the first three outpatients with influenza-like illness (ILI) per day, we collected both nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs. Beginning in 2008, we conducted in-hospital follow-up for SARI patients to determine outcome. Specimens were tested by real time RT-PCR for influenza A and B. Influenza A-positive specimens were subtyped for H1, H3, H5, and (beginning in May 2009) A(H1N1)pdm09.
From July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013, we collected specimens from 24,762 SARI and 14,013 ILI patients. For SARI and ILI case-patients, the median ages were 12 months and 16 months, respectively, and 44% and 47% were female. In all, 2,378 (9.6%) SARI cases and 2,041 (14.6%) ILI cases were positive for influenza viruses. Most influenza-associated SARI cases (58.6%) were in children <2 years old. Of all influenza-positive specimens, 78% were influenza A, 21% were influenza B, and 1% were influenza A/B coinfections. Influenza circulated in every month. In four of the six years influenza activity peaked during July–November. Of 9,419 SARI patients, 2.7% died; the median length of hospitalization was 4 days.
During six years of surveillance in Kenya, influenza was associated with nearly 10 percent of hospitalized SARI cases and one-sixth of outpatient ILI cases. Most influenza-associated SARI and ILI cases were in children <2 years old; interventions to reduce the burden of influenza, such as vaccine, could consider young children as a priority group.
PMCID: PMC4067481  PMID: 24955962
8.  Village-Randomized Clinical Trial of Home Distribution of Zinc for Treatment of Childhood Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e94436.
Zinc treatment shortens diarrhea episodes and can prevent future episodes. In rural Africa, most children with diarrhea are not brought to health facilities. In a village-randomized trial in rural Kenya, we assessed if zinc treatment might have a community-level preventive effect on diarrhea incidence if available at home versus only at health facilities.
We randomized 16 Kenyan villages (1,903 eligible children) to receive a 10-day course of zinc and two oral rehydration solution (ORS) sachets every two months at home and 17 villages (2,241 eligible children) to receive ORS at home, but zinc at the health–facility only. Children’s caretakers were educated in zinc/ORS use by village workers, both unblinded to intervention arm. We evaluated whether incidence of diarrhea and acute lower respiratory illness (ALRI) reported at biweekly home visits and presenting to clinic were lower in zinc villages, using poisson regression adjusting for baseline disease rates, distance to clinic, and children’s age.
There were no differences between village groups in diarrhea incidence either reported at the home or presenting to clinic. In zinc villages (1,440 children analyzed), 61.2% of diarrheal episodes were treated with zinc, compared to 5.4% in comparison villages (1,584 children analyzed, p<0.0001). There were no differences in ORS use between zinc (59.6%) and comparison villages (58.8%). Among children with fever or cough without diarrhea, zinc use was low (<0.5%). There was a lower incidence of reported ALRI in zinc villages (adjusted RR 0.68, 95% CI 0.46–0.99), but not presenting at clinic.
In this study, home zinc use to treat diarrhea did not decrease disease rates in the community. However, with proper training, availability of zinc at home could lead to more episodes of pediatric diarrhea being treated with zinc in parts of rural Africa where healthcare utilization is low.
Trial Registration NCT00530829
PMCID: PMC4023937  PMID: 24835009
9.  A sham case-control study of effectiveness of DTP-Hib-hepatitis B vaccine against rotavirus acute gastroenteritis in Kenya 
In many GAVI-eligible countries, effectiveness of new vaccines will be evaluated by case-control methodology. To inform the design and assess selection bias of a future case-control study of rotavirus vaccine effectiveness (VE) in western Kenya, we performed a sham case-control study evaluating VE of pentavalent vaccine (DTP-Hib-HepB) against rotavirus acute gastroenteritis (AGE).
From ongoing rotavirus surveillance, we defined cases as children 12 weeks to 23 months old with EIA-confirmed rotavirus AGE. We enrolled one community-based and two hospital-based control groups. We collected vaccination status from cards at enrollment, or later in homes, and evaluated VE by logistic regression.
We enrolled 91 cases (64 inpatient, 27 outpatient), 252 non-rotavirus AGE facility-based controls (unmatched), 203 non-AGE facility-based controls (age-matched) and 271 community controls (age-matched). Documented receipt of 3 pentavalent doses was 77% among cases and ranged from 81-86% among controls. One percent of cases and 0-2% of controls had no pentavalent doses. The adjusted odds ratio of three versus zero doses for being a case was 3.27 (95% CI 0.01-1010) for community controls and 0.69 (95% CI 0.06-7.75) for non-rotavirus hospital-based AGE controls, translating to VE of -227% and 31%, respectively, with wide confidence intervals. (No facility-based non-AGE controls were unvaccinated.) Similar results were found for ≥2 pentavalent doses and for severe rotavirus AGE.
The study showed that it is feasible to carry out a real case control in the study area, but this needs to be done as soon as the vaccine is introduced to capture the real impact. Sham case-control or pilot studies before vaccine introduction can be useful in designing case-control VE studies.
PMCID: PMC3926679  PMID: 24517198
Rotavirus; Case-control; Vaccine effectiveness
10.  Mortality Trends Observed in Population-Based Surveillance of an Urban Slum Settlement, Kibera, Kenya, 2007–2010 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85913.
We used population based infectious disease surveillance to characterize mortality rates in residents of an urban slum in Kenya.
We analyzed biweekly household visit data collected two weeks before death for 749 cases who died during January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2010. We also selected controls matched by age, gender and having a biweekly household visit within two weeks before death of the corresponding case and compared the symptoms reported.
The overall mortality rate was 6.3 per 1,000 person years of observation (PYO) (females: 5.7; males: 6.8). Infant mortality rate was 50.2 per 1000 PYOs, and it was 15.1 per 1,000 PYOs for children <5 years old. Poisson regression indicates a significant decrease over time in overall mortality from (6.0 in 2007 to 4.0 in 2010 per 1000 PYOs; p<0.05) in persons ≥5 years old. This decrease was predominant in females (7.8 to 5.7 per 1000 PYOs; p<0.05). Two weeks before death, significantly higher prevalence for cough (OR = 4.7 [95% CI: 3.7–5.9]), fever (OR = 8.1 [95% CI: 6.1–10.7]), and diarrhea (OR = 9.1 [95% CI: 6.4–13.2]) were reported among participants who died (cases) when compared to participants who did not die (controls). Diarrhea followed by fever were independently associated with deaths (OR = 14.4 [95% CI: 7.1–29.2]), and (OR = 11.4 [95% CI: 6.7–19.4]) respectively.
Despite accessible health care, mortality rates are high among people living in this urban slum; infectious disease syndromes appear to be linked to a substantial proportion of deaths. Rapid urbanization poses an increasing challenge in national efforts to improve health outcomes, including reducing childhood mortality rates. Targeting impoverished people in urban slums with effective interventions such as water and sanitation interventions are needed to achieve national objectives for health.
PMCID: PMC3904840  PMID: 24489678
11.  Serotype-Specific Changes in Invasive Pneumococcal Disease after Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Introduction: A Pooled Analysis of Multiple Surveillance Sites 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001517.
In a pooled analysis of data collected from invasive pneumococcal disease surveillance databases, Daniel Feikin and colleagues examine serotype replacement after the introduction of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) into national immunization programs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Vaccine-serotype (VT) invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) rates declined substantially following introduction of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) into national immunization programs. Increases in non-vaccine-serotype (NVT) IPD rates occurred in some sites, presumably representing serotype replacement. We used a standardized approach to describe serotype-specific IPD changes among multiple sites after PCV7 introduction.
Methods and Findings
Of 32 IPD surveillance datasets received, we identified 21 eligible databases with rate data ≥2 years before and ≥1 year after PCV7 introduction. Expected annual rates of IPD absent PCV7 introduction were estimated by extrapolation using either Poisson regression modeling of pre-PCV7 rates or averaging pre-PCV7 rates. To estimate whether changes in rates had occurred following PCV7 introduction, we calculated site specific rate ratios by dividing observed by expected IPD rates for each post-PCV7 year. We calculated summary rate ratios (RRs) using random effects meta-analysis. For children <5 years old, overall IPD decreased by year 1 post-PCV7 (RR 0·55, 95% CI 0·46–0·65) and remained relatively stable through year 7 (RR 0·49, 95% CI 0·35–0·68). Point estimates for VT IPD decreased annually through year 7 (RR 0·03, 95% CI 0·01–0·10), while NVT IPD increased (year 7 RR 2·81, 95% CI 2·12–3·71). Among adults, decreases in overall IPD also occurred but were smaller and more variable by site than among children. At year 7 after introduction, significant reductions were observed (18–49 year-olds [RR 0·52, 95% CI 0·29–0·91], 50–64 year-olds [RR 0·84, 95% CI 0·77–0·93], and ≥65 year-olds [RR 0·74, 95% CI 0·58–0·95]).
Consistent and significant decreases in both overall and VT IPD in children occurred quickly and were sustained for 7 years after PCV7 introduction, supporting use of PCVs. Increases in NVT IPD occurred in most sites, with variable magnitude. These findings may not represent the experience in low-income countries or the effects after introduction of higher valency PCVs. High-quality, population-based surveillance of serotype-specific IPD rates is needed to monitor vaccine impact as more countries, including low-income countries, introduce PCVs and as higher valency PCVs are used.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Pneumococcal disease–a major cause of illness and death in children and adults worldwide–is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium that often colonizes the nose and throat harmlessly. Unfortunately, S. pneumoniae occasionally spreads into the lungs, bloodstream, or covering of the brain, where it causes pneumonia, septicemia, and meningitis, respectively. These invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPDs) can usually be successfully treated with antibiotics but can be fatal. Consequently, it is better to avoid infection through vaccination. Vaccination primes the immune system to recognize and attack disease-causing organisms (pathogens) rapidly and effectively by exposing it to weakened or dead pathogens or to pathogen molecules that it recognizes as foreign (antigens). Because there are more than 90 S. pneumoniae variants or “serotypes,” each characterized by a different antigenic polysaccharide (complex sugar) coat, vaccines that protect against S. pneumoniae have to include multiple serotypes. Thus, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV7, which was introduced into the US infant immunization regimen in 2000, contains polysaccharides from the seven S. pneumoniae serotypes mainly responsible for IPD in the US at that time.
Why Was This Study Done?
Vaccination with PCV7 was subsequently introduced in several other high- and middle-income countries, and IPD caused by the serotypes included in the vaccine declined substantially in children and in adults (because of reduced bacterial transmission and herd protection) in the US and virtually all these countries. However, increases in IPD caused by non-vaccine serotypes occurred in some settings, presumably because of “serotype replacement.” PCV7 prevents both IPD caused by the serotypes it contains and carriage of these serotypes. Consequently, after vaccination, previously less common, non-vaccine serotypes can colonize the nose and throat, some of which can cause IPD. In July 2010, a World Health Organization expert consultation on serotype replacement called for a comprehensive analysis of the magnitude and variability of pneumococcal serotype replacement following PCV7 use to help guide the introduction of PCVs in low-income countries, where most pneumococcal deaths occur. In this pooled analysis of data from multiple surveillance sites, the researchers investigate serotype-specific changes in IPD after PCV7 introduction using a standardized approach.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 21 databases that had data about the rate of IPD for at least 2 years before and 1 year after PCV7 introduction. They estimated whether changes in IPD rates had occurred after PCV7 introduction by calculating site-specific rate ratios–the observed IPD rate for each post-PCV7 year divided by the expected IPD rate in the absence of PCV7 extrapolated from the pre-PCV7 rate. Finally, they used a statistical approach (random effects meta-analysis) to estimate summary (pooled) rate ratios. For children under 5 years old, the overall number of observed cases of IPD in the first year after the introduction of PCV7 was about half the expected number; this reduction in IPD continued through year 7 after PCV7 introduction. Notably, the rate of IPD caused by the S. pneumonia serotypes in PCV7 decreased every year, but the rate of IPD caused by non-vaccine serotypes increased annually. By year 7, the number of cases of IPD caused by non-vaccine serotypes was 3-fold higher than expected, but was still smaller than the decrease in vaccine serotypes, thereby leading to the decrease in overall IPD. Finally, smaller decreases in overall IPD also occurred among adults but occurred later than in children 2 years or more after PCV7 introduction.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that consistent, rapid, and sustained decreases in overall IPD and in IPD caused by serotypes included in PCV7 occurred in children and thus support the use of PCVs. The small increases in IPD caused by non-vaccine serotypes that these findings reveal are likely to be the result of serotype replacement, but changes in antibiotic use and other factors may also be involved. These findings have several important limitations, however. For example, PCV7 is no longer made and extrapolation of these results to newer PCV10 and PCV13 formulations should be done cautiously. On the other hand, many of the serotypes causing serotype replacement after PCV7 are included in these higher valency vaccines. Moreover, because the data analyzed in this study mainly came from high-income countries, these findings may not be generalizable to low-income countries. Nevertheless, based on their analysis, the researchers make recommendations for the collection and analysis of IPD surveillance data that should allow valid interpretations of the effect of PCVs on IPD to be made, an important requisite for making sound policy decisions about vaccination against pneumococcal disease.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal vaccination, including personal stories
Public Health England provides information on pneumococcal disease and on pneumococcal vaccines
The World Health Organization also provides information on pneumococcal vaccines
The not-for-profit Immunization Action Coalition has information on pneumococcal disease, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to further information about pneumococcal infections (in English and Spanish)
The International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has more information on introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in low-income countries
PMCID: PMC3782411  PMID: 24086113
12.  Caretakers’ Perception towards Using Zinc to Treat Childhood Diarrhoea in Rural Western Kenya 
Zinc treatment for diarrhoea can shorten the course and prevent future episodes among children worldwide. However, knowledge and acceptability of zinc among African mothers is unknown. We identified children aged 3 to 59 months, who had diarrhoea within the last three months and participated in a home-based zinc treatment study in rural Kenya. Caretakers of these children were enrolled in two groups; zinc-users and non-users. A structured questionnaire was administered to all caretakers, inquiring about knowledge and appropriate use of zinc. Questions on how much the caretakers were willing to pay for zinc were asked. Proportions were compared using Mantel-Haenszel test, and medians were compared using Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. Among 109 enrolled caretakers, 73 (67%) used zinc, and 36 (33%) did not. Sixty-four (88%) caretakers in zinc-user group reported satisfaction with zinc treatment. Caretakers in the zinc-user group more often correctly identified appropriate zinc treatment (98%-100%) than did those in the non-user group (64−72%, p<0.001). Caretakers in the zinc-user group answered more questions about zinc correctly or favourably (median 10 of 11) compared to those in the non-user group (median 6.3 of 11, p<0.001). Caretakers in the zinc-user group were willing to pay more for a course of zinc in the future than those in the non-user group (median US$ 0.26, p<0.001). Caretakers of children given zinc recently had favourable impressions on the therapy and were willing to pay for it in the future. Active promotion of zinc treatment in clinics and communities in Africa could lead to greater knowledge, acceptance, and demand for zinc.
PMCID: PMC3805881  PMID: 24288945
Acceptability; Community treatment; Diarrhoeal disease; Zinc; Kenya
13.  Non-pneumococcal mitis-group streptococci confound detection of pneumococcal capsular serotype-specific loci in upper respiratory tract 
PeerJ  2013;1:e97.
We performed culture-based and PCR-based tests for pneumococcal identification and serotyping from carriage specimens collected in rural and urban Kenya. Nasopharyngeal specimens from 237 healthy children <5 years old (C-NPs) and combined nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens from 158 adults (A-NP/OPs, 118 HIV-positive) were assessed using pneumococcal isolation (following broth culture enrichment) with Quellung-based serotyping, real-time lytA-PCR, and conventional multiplexed PCR-serotyping (cmPCR). Culture-based testing from C-NPs, HIV-positive A-NP/OPs, and HIV-negative A-NP/OPs revealed 85.2%, 40.7%, and 12.5% pneumococcal carriage, respectively. In contrast, cmPCR serotypes were found in 93.2%, 98.3%, and 95.0% of these sets, respectively. Two of 16 lytA-negative C-NPs and 26 of 28 lytA-negative A-NP/OPs were cmPCR-positive for 1–10 serotypes (sts) or serogroups (sgs). A-NP/OPs averaged 5.5 cmPCR serotypes/serogroups (5.2 in HIV-positive, 7.1 in HIV-negative) and C-NPs averaged 1.5 cmPCR serotypes/serogroups. cmPCR serotypes/serogroups from lytA-negative A-NP/OPs included st2, st4, sg7F/7A, sg9N/9L, st10A, sg10F/10C/33C, st13, st17F, sg18C/18A/18B/18F, sg22F/22A, and st39. Nine strains of three non-pneumococcal species (S. oralis, S. mitis, and S. parasanguinis) (7 from A-OP, 1 from both A-NP and A-OP, and 1 from C-NP) were each cmPCR-positive for one of 7 serotypes/serogroups (st5, st13, sg15A/15F, sg10F/10C/33C, sg33F/33A/37, sg18C/18A/18B/18F, sg12F/12A/12B/ 44/46) with amplicons revealing 83.6–99.7% sequence identity to pneumococcal references. In total, 150 cmPCR amplicons from carriage specimens were sequenced, including 25 from lytA-negative specimens. Amplicon sequences derived from specimens yielding a pneumococcal isolate with the corresponding serotype were identical or highly conserved (>98.7%) with the reference cmPCR amplicon for the st, while cmPCR amplicons from lytA-negative specimens were generally more divergent. Separate testing of 56 A-OPs and 56 A-NPs revealed that ∼94% of the positive cmPCR results from A-NP/OPs were from OP microbiota. In contrast, A-NPs yielded >2-fold more pneumococcal isolates than A-OPs. Verified and suspected non-pneumococcal cmPCR serotypes/serogroups appeared to be relatively rare in C-NPs and A-NPs compared to A-OPs. Our findings indicate that non-pneumococcal species can confound serotype-specific PCR and other sequence-based assays due to evolutionarily conserved genes most likely involved in biosynthesis of surface polysaccharide structures.
PMCID: PMC3698467  PMID: 23825797
Pneumococcal serotype-specific loci; Mitis group streptococci; Oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal flora; PCR for serotype deduction
14.  Global and regional burden of hospital admissions for severe acute lower respiratory infections in young children in 2010: a systematic analysis 
Lancet  2013;381(9875):1380-1390.
The annual number of hospital admissions and in-hospital deaths due to severe acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) in young children worldwide is unknown. We aimed to estimate the incidence of admissions and deaths for such infections in children younger than 5 years in 2010.
We estimated the incidence of admissions for severe and very severe ALRI in children younger than 5 years, stratified by age and region, with data from a systematic review of studies published between Jan 1, 1990, and March 31, 2012, and from 28 unpublished population-based studies. We applied these incidence estimates to population estimates for 2010, to calculate the global and regional burden in children admitted with severe ALRI in that year. We estimated in-hospital mortality due to severe and very severe ALRI by combining incidence estimates with case fatality ratios from hospital-based studies.
We identified 89 eligible studies and estimated that in 2010, 11·9 million (95% CI 10·3–13·9 million) episodes of severe and 3·0 million (2·1–4·2 million) episodes of very severe ALRI resulted in hospital admissions in young children worldwide. Incidence was higher in boys than in girls, the sex disparity being greatest in South Asian studies. On the basis of data from 37 hospital studies reporting case fatality ratios for severe ALRI, we estimated that roughly 265 000 (95% CI 160 000–450 000) in-hospital deaths took place in young children, with 99% of these deaths in developing countries. Therefore, the data suggest that although 62% of children with severe ALRI are treated in hospitals, 81% of deaths happen outside hospitals.
Severe ALRI is a substantial burden on health services worldwide and a major cause of hospital referral and admission in young children. Improved hospital access and reduced inequities, such as those related to sex and rural status, could substantially decrease mortality related to such infection. Community-based management of severe disease could be an important complementary strategy to reduce pneumonia mortality and health inequities.
PMCID: PMC3986472  PMID: 23369797
15.  Evaluation of Risk Factors for Severe Pneumonia in Children: The Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health Study 
As a case-control study of etiology, the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project also provides an opportunity to assess the risk factors for severe pneumonia in hospitalized children at 7 sites. We identified relevant risk factors by literature review and iterative expert consultation. Decisions for inclusion in PERCH were based on comparability to published data, analytic plans, data collection costs and logistic feasibility, including interviewer time and subject fatigue. We aimed to standardize questions at all sites, but significant variation in the economic, cultural, and geographic characteristics of sites made it difficult to obtain this objective. Despite these challenges, the depth of the evaluation of multiple risk factors across the breadth of the PERCH sites should furnish new and valuable information about the major risk factors for childhood severe and very severe pneumonia, including risk factors for pneumonia caused by specific etiologies, in developing countries.
PMCID: PMC3297552  PMID: 22403226
16.  Use of Population-based Surveillance to Define the High Incidence of Shigellosis in an Urban Slum in Nairobi, Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58437.
Worldwide, Shigella causes an estimated 160 million infections and >1 million deaths annually. However, limited incidence data are available from African urban slums. We investigated the epidemiology of shigellosis and drug susceptibility patterns within a densely populated urban settlement in Nairobi, Kenya through population-based surveillance.
Surveillance participants were interviewed in their homes every 2 weeks by community interviewers. Participants also had free access to a designated study clinic in the surveillance area where stool specimens were collected from patients with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools within 24 hours) or dysentery (≥1 stool with visible blood during previous 24 hours). We adjusted crude incidence rates for participants meeting stool collection criteria at household visits who reported visiting another clinic.
Shigella species were isolated from 224 (23%) of 976 stool specimens. The overall adjusted incidence rate was 408/100,000 person years of observation (PYO) with highest rates among adults 34–49 years old (1,575/100,000 PYO). Isolates were: Shigella flexneri (64%), S. dysenteriae (11%), S. sonnei (9%), and S. boydii (5%). Over 90% of all Shigella isolates were resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and sulfisoxazole. Additional resistance included nalidixic acid (3%), ciprofloxacin (1%) and ceftriaxone (1%).
More than 1 of every 200 persons experience shigellosis each year in this Kenyan urban slum, yielding rates similar to those in some Asian countries. Provision of safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene in urban slums are needed to reduce disease burden, in addition to development of effective Shigella vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3591331  PMID: 23505506
17.  Coxiella burnetii in Humans, Domestic Ruminants, and Ticks in Rural Western Kenya 
We conducted serological surveys for Coxiella burnetii in archived sera from patients that visited a rural clinic in western Kenya from 2007 to 2008 and in cattle, sheep, and goats from the same area in 2009. We also conducted serological and polymerase chain reaction-based surveillance for the pathogen in 2009–2010, in human patients with acute lower respiratory illness, in ruminants following parturition, and in ticks collected from ruminants and domestic dogs. Antibodies against C. burnetii were detected in 30.9% (N = 246) of archived patient sera and in 28.3% (N = 463) of cattle, 32.0% (N = 378) of goats, and 18.2% (N = 159) of sheep surveyed. Four of 135 (3%) patients with acute lower respiratory illness showed seroconversion to C. burnetii. The pathogen was detected by polymerase chain reaction in specimens collected from three of six small ruminants that gave birth within the preceding 24 hours, and in five of 10 pools (50%) of Haemaphysalis leachi ticks collected from domestic dogs.
PMCID: PMC3592534  PMID: 23382156
19.  Estimation of the National Disease Burden of Influenza-Associated Severe Acute Respiratory Illness in Kenya and Guatemala: A Novel Methodology 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56882.
Knowing the national disease burden of severe influenza in low-income countries can inform policy decisions around influenza treatment and prevention. We present a novel methodology using locally generated data for estimating this burden.
Methods and Findings
This method begins with calculating the hospitalized severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) incidence for children <5 years old and persons ≥5 years old from population-based surveillance in one province. This base rate of SARI is then adjusted for each province based on the prevalence of risk factors and healthcare-seeking behavior. The percentage of SARI with influenza virus detected is determined from provincial-level sentinel surveillance and applied to the adjusted provincial rates of hospitalized SARI. Healthcare-seeking data from healthcare utilization surveys is used to estimate non-hospitalized influenza-associated SARI. Rates of hospitalized and non-hospitalized influenza-associated SARI are applied to census data to calculate the national number of cases. The method was field-tested in Kenya, and validated in Guatemala, using data from August 2009–July 2011. In Kenya (2009 population 38.6 million persons), the annual number of hospitalized influenza-associated SARI cases ranged from 17,129–27,659 for children <5 years old (2.9–4.7 per 1,000 persons) and 6,882–7,836 for persons ≥5 years old (0.21–0.24 per 1,000 persons), depending on year and base rate used. In Guatemala (2011 population 14.7 million persons), the annual number of hospitalized cases of influenza-associated pneumonia ranged from 1,065–2,259 (0.5–1.0 per 1,000 persons) among children <5 years old and 779–2,252 cases (0.1–0.2 per 1,000 persons) for persons ≥5 years old, depending on year and base rate used. In both countries, the number of non-hospitalized influenza-associated cases was several-fold higher than the hospitalized cases.
Influenza virus was associated with a substantial amount of severe disease in Kenya and Guatemala. This method can be performed in most low and lower-middle income countries.
PMCID: PMC3584100  PMID: 23573177
20.  Community Case Management of Childhood Diarrhea in a Setting with Declining Use of Oral Rehydration Therapy: Findings from Cross-Sectional Studies among Primary Household Caregivers, Kenya, 2007 
We sought to determine factors associated with appropriate diarrhea case management in Kenya. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of caregivers of children < 5 years of age with diarrhea in rural Asembo and urban Kibera. In Asembo, 61% of respondents provided oral rehydration therapy (ORT), 45% oral rehydration solution (ORS), and 64% continued feeding. In Kibera, 75% provided ORT, 43% ORS, and 46% continued feeding. Seeking care at a health facility, risk perception regarding death from diarrhea, and treating a child with oral medications were associated with ORT and ORS use. Availability of oral medication was negatively associated. A minority of caregivers reported that ORS is available in nearby shops. In Kenya, household case management of diarrhea remains inadequate for a substantial proportion of children. Health workers have a critical role in empowering caregivers regarding early treatment with ORT and continued feeding. Increasing community ORS availability is essential to improving diarrhea management.
PMCID: PMC3225166  PMID: 22144458
21.  Challenges of Establishing the Correct Diagnosis of Outbreaks of Acute Febrile Illnesses in Africa: The Case of a Likely Brucella Outbreak among Nomadic Pastoralists, Northeast Kenya, March–July 2005 
An outbreak of acute febrile illness was reported among Somali pastoralists in remote, arid Northeast Kenya, where drinking raw milk is common. Blood specimens from 12 patients, collected mostly in the late convalescent phase, were tested for viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens. All were negative for viral and typhoid serology. Nine patients had Brucella antibodies present by at least one of the tests, four of whom had evidence suggestive of acute infection by the reference serologic microscopic agglutination test. Three patients were positive for leptospiral antibody by immunoglobulin M enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and two were positive for malaria. Although sensitive and specific point-of-care testing methods will improve diagnosis of acute febrile illness in developing countries, challenges of interpretation still remain when the outbreaks are remote, specimens collected too late, and positive results for multiple diseases are obtained. Better diagnostics and tools that can decipher overlapping signs and symptoms in such settings are needed.
PMCID: PMC3205640  PMID: 22049048
22.  A Reversal in Reductions of Child Mortality in Western Kenya, 2003–2009 
We report and explore changes in child mortality in a rural area of Kenya during 2003–2009, when major public health interventions were scaled-up. Mortality ratios and rates were calculated by using the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Demographic Surveillance System. Inpatient and outpatient morbidity and mortality, and verbal autopsy data were analyzed. Mortality ratios for children less than five years of age decreased from 241 to 137 deaths/1,000 live-births in 2003 and 2007 respectively. In 2008, they increased to 212 deaths/1,000 live-births. Mortality remained elevated during the first 8 months of 2009 compared with 2006 and 2007. Malaria and/or anemia accounted for the greatest increases in child mortality. Stock-outs of essential antimalarial drugs during a time of increased malaria transmission and disruption of services during civil unrest may have contributed to increased mortality in 2008–2009. To maintain gains in child survival, implementation of good policies and effective interventions must be complemented by reliable supply and access to clinical services and essential drugs.
PMCID: PMC3183762  PMID: 21976557
23.  Etiology and Incidence of Viral and Bacterial Acute Respiratory Illness among Older Children and Adults in Rural Western Kenya, 2007–2010 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43656.
Few comprehensive data exist on disease incidence for specific etiologies of acute respiratory illness (ARI) in older children and adults in Africa.
Methodology/Principal Findings
From March 1, 2007, to February 28, 2010, among a surveillance population of 21,420 persons >5 years old in rural western Kenya, we collected blood for culture and malaria smears, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs for quantitative real-time PCR for ten viruses and three atypical bacteria, and urine for pneumococcal antigen testing on outpatients and inpatients meeting a ARI case definition (cough or difficulty breathing or chest pain and temperature >38.0°C or oxygen saturation <90% or hospitalization). We also collected swabs from asymptomatic controls, from which we calculated pathogen-attributable fractions, adjusting for age, season, and HIV-status, in logistic regression. We calculated incidence by pathogen, adjusting for health-seeking for ARI and pathogen-attributable fractions. Among 3,406 ARI patients >5 years old (adjusted annual incidence 12.0 per 100 person-years), influenza A virus was the most common virus (22% overall; 11% inpatients, 27% outpatients) and Streptococcus pneumoniae was the most common bacteria (16% overall; 23% inpatients, 14% outpatients), yielding annual incidences of 2.6 and 1.7 episodes per 100 person-years, respectively. Influenza A virus, influenza B virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus were more prevalent in swabs among cases (22%, 6%, 8% and 5%, respectively) than controls. Adenovirus, parainfluenza viruses, rhinovirus/enterovirus, parechovirus, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae were not more prevalent among cases than controls. Pneumococcus and non-typhi Salmonella were more prevalent among HIV-infected adults, but prevalence of viruses was similar among HIV-infected and HIV-negative individuals. ARI incidence was highest during peak malaria season.
Vaccination against influenza and pneumococcus (by potential herd immunity from childhood vaccination or of HIV-infected adults) might prevent much of the substantial ARI incidence among persons >5 years old in similar rural African settings.
PMCID: PMC3427162  PMID: 22937071
24.  Risk Factors for Death among Children Less than 5 Years Old Hospitalized with Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya, 2005–2007: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001256.
A hospital-based surveillance study conducted by Ciara O'Reilly and colleagues describes the risk factors for death amongst children who have been hospitalized with diarrhea in rural Kenya.
Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Data on risk factors for mortality are limited. We conducted hospital-based surveillance to characterize the etiology of diarrhea and identify risk factors for death among children hospitalized with diarrhea in rural western Kenya.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled all children <5 years old, hospitalized with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools in 24 hours) at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. Clinical and demographic information was collected. Stool specimens were tested for bacterial and viral pathogens. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify risk factors for death. From May 23, 2005 to May 22, 2007, 1,146 children <5 years old were enrolled; 107 (9%) children died during hospitalization. Nontyphoidal Salmonella were identified in 10% (118), Campylobacter in 5% (57), and Shigella in 4% (42) of 1,137 stool samples; rotavirus was detected in 19% (196) of 1,021 stool samples. Among stools from children who died, nontyphoidal Salmonella were detected in 22%, Shigella in 11%, rotavirus in 9%, Campylobacter in 5%, and S. Typhi in <1%. In multivariable analysis, infants who died were more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 6·8; 95% CI 3·1–14·9), and children <5 years to have Shigella (aOR = 5·5; 95% CI 2·2–14·0) identified than children who survived. Children who died were less likely to be infected with rotavirus (OR = 0·4; 95% CI 0·2–0·8). Further risk factors for death included being malnourished (aOR = 4·2; 95% CI 2·1–8·7); having oral thrush on physical exam (aOR = 2·3; 95% CI 1·4–3·8); having previously sought care at a hospital for the illness (aOR = 2·2; 95% CI 1·2–3·8); and being dehydrated as diagnosed at discharge/death (aOR = 2·5; 95% CI 1·5–4·1). A clinical diagnosis of malaria, and malaria parasites seen on blood smear, were not associated with increased risk of death. This study only captured in-hospital childhood deaths, and likely missed a substantial number of additional deaths that occurred at home.
Nontyphoidal Salmonella and Shigella are associated with mortality among rural Kenyan children with diarrhea who access a hospital. Improved prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease is necessary. Enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics in Africa may assist clinicians in appropriately treating potentially fatal diarrheal illness.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Diarrhea—passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day—kills about 1.5 million young children every year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death in under-5-year olds, causing nearly one in five child deaths. Diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration, is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections. The pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food or drinking water, and from person to person through poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation (unsafe disposal of human excreta). Interventions that prevent diarrhea include improvements in water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, the promotion of breast feeding, and vaccination against rotavirus (a major viral cause of diarrhea). Treatments for diarrhea include oral rehydration salts, which prevent and treat dehydration, zinc supplementation, which decreases the severity and duration of diarrhea, and the use of appropriate antibiotics when indicated for severe bacterial diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Nearly half of deaths from diarrhea among young children occur in Africa where diarrhea is the single largest cause of death among under 5-year-olds and a major cause of childhood illness. Unfortunately, although some of the risk factors for death from diarrhea in children in sub-Saharan Africa have been identified (for example, having other illnesses, poor nutrition, and not being breastfed), little is known about the relative contributions of different diarrhea-causing pathogens to diarrheal deaths. Clinicians need to know which of these pathogens are most likely to cause death in children so that they can manage their patients appropriately. In this cohort study, the researchers characterize the causes and risk factors associated with death among young children hospitalized for diarrhea in Nyanza Province, western Kenya, an area where most households have no access to safe drinking water and a quarter lack latrines. In a cohort study, a group of people with a specific condition is observed to identify which factors lead to different outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled all the children under 5 years old who were hospitalized over a two-year period for diarrhea at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, tested their stool samples for diarrhea-causing viral and bacterial pathogens, and recorded which patients died in-hospital. They then used multivariable regression analysis (a statistical method) to determine which risk factors and diarrheal pathogens were associated with death among the children. During the study, 1,146 children were hospitalized, 107 of whom died in the hospital. 10% of all the stool samples contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 4% contained Shigella (two types of diarrhea-causing bacteria), and 19% contained rotavirus. By contrast, 22% of the samples taken from children who died contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 11% contained Shigella, 9% contained rotavirus, and 5% contained Campylobacter (another bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea). Compared to survivors, infants (children under 1 year of age) who died were nearly seven times more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella in their stools and children under 5 years old who died were five and half times more likely to have Shigella in their stools but less likely to have rotavirus in their stools. Other factors associated with death included being malnourished, having oral thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), having previously sought hospital care for diarrhea, and being dehydrated.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among young children admitted to the hospital in western Kenya with diarrhea, infections with nontyphoidal Salmonella and with Shigella (but not with rotavirus) were associated with an increased risk of death. Because this study only captured deaths in hospital and most diarrheal deaths in developing countries occur at home, these results may not accurately reflect the pathogens associated with overall childhood diarrheal deaths. In addition, they may not be generalizable to other geographical regions. Nevertheless, given that that there are currently no vaccines available for most bacterial diarrheal diseases, these findings highlight the importance of Kenya and other developing countries implementing effective strategies for the prevention and management of diarrheal diseases in children such as increasing access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene, and community-level promotion of the use of oral rehydration solution and zinc supplements. They also suggest that enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics for diarrheal pathogens could help clinicians identify those children presenting to hospital with diarrhea who are at high risk of death and prioritize their treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on diarrhea (in several languages); its 2009 report with UNICEF Diarrhea: why children are still dying and what can be done, which includes the WHO/UNICEF recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea in children, can be downloaded from the Internet
The children's charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides information on diarrhea (in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3389023  PMID: 22802736
25.  Secondary Household Transmission of 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus among an Urban and Rural Population in Kenya, 2009–2010 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38166.
In Kenya, >1,200 laboratory-confirmed 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1) cases occurred since June 2009. We used population-based infectious disease surveillance (PBIDS) data to assess household transmission of pH1N1 in urban Nairobi (Kibera) and rural Lwak.
We defined a pH1N1 patient as laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 infection among PBIDS participants during August 1, 2009–February 5, 2010, in Kibera, or August 1, 2009–January 20, 2010, in Lwak, and a case household as a household with a laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 patient. Community interviewers visited PBIDS-participating households to inquire about illnesses among household members. We randomly selected 4 comparison households per case household matched by number of children aged <5. Comparison households had a household visit 10 days before or after the matched patient symptom onset date. We defined influenza-like illnesses (ILI) as self-reported cough or sore throat, and a self-reported fever ≤8 days after the pH1N1 patient's symptom onset in case households and ≤8 days before selected household visit in comparison households. We used the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test to compare proportions of ILIs among case and comparison households, and log binomial-model to compare that of Kibera and Lwak.
Among household contacts of patients with confirmed pH1N1 in Kibera, 4.6% had ILI compared with 8.2% in Lwak (risk ratio [RR], 0.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.3–0.9). Household contacts of patients were more likely to have ILIs than comparison-household members in both Kibera (RR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1–2.8) and Lwak (RR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.6–4.3). Overall, ILI was not associated with patient age. However, ILI rates among household contacts were higher among children aged <5 years than persons aged ≥5 years in Lwak, but not Kibera.
Substantial pH1N1 household transmission occurred in urban and rural Kenya. Household transmission rates were higher in the rural area.
PMCID: PMC3372521  PMID: 22701610

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