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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
16.  The Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health Project: A 21st Century Childhood Pneumonia Etiology Study 
The Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project is a 7-country, standardized, comprehensive evaluation of the etiologic agents causing severe pneumonia in children from developing countries. During previous etiology studies, between one-quarter and one-third of patients failed to yield an obvious etiology; PERCH will employ and evaluate previously unavailable innovative, more sensitive diagnostic techniques. Innovative and rigorous epidemiologic and analytic methods will be used to establish the causal association between presence of potential pathogens and pneumonia. By strategic selection of study sites that are broadly representative of regions with the greatest burden of childhood pneumonia, PERCH aims to provide data that reflect the epidemiologic situation in developing countries in 2015, using pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines. PERCH will also address differences in host, environmental, and/or geographic factors that might determine pneumonia etiology and, by preserving specimens, will generate a resource for future research and pathogen discovery.
PMCID: PMC3297546  PMID: 22403238
17.  The Definition of Pneumonia, the Assessment of Severity, and Clinical Standardization in the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health Study 
To develop a case definition for the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project, we sought a widely acceptable classification that was linked to existing pneumonia research and focused on very severe cases. We began with the World Health Organization’s classification of severe/very severe pneumonia and refined it through literature reviews and a 2-stage process of expert consultation. PERCH will study hospitalized children, aged 1–59 months, with pneumonia who present with cough or difficulty breathing and have either severe pneumonia (lower chest wall indrawing) or very severe pneumonia (central cyanosis, difficulty breastfeeding/drinking, vomiting everything, convulsions, lethargy, unconsciousness, or head nodding). It will exclude patients with recent hospitalization and children with wheeze whose indrawing resolves after bronchodilator therapy. The PERCH investigators agreed upon standard interpretations of the symptoms and signs. These will be maintained by a clinical standardization monitor who conducts repeated instruction at each site and by recurrent local training and testing.
PMCID: PMC3297550  PMID: 22403224
18.  Identification and Selection of Cases and Controls in the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health Project 
Methods for the identification and selection of patients (cases) with severe or very severe pneumonia and controls for the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project were needed. Issues considered include eligibility criteria and sampling strategies, whether to enroll hospital or community controls, whether to exclude controls with upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) or nonsevere pneumonia, and matching criteria, among others. PERCH ultimately decided to enroll community controls and an additional human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected control group at high HIV-prevalence sites matched on age and enrollment date of cases; controls with symptoms of URTI or nonsevere pneumonia will not be excluded. Systematic sampling of cases (when necessary) and random sampling of controls will be implemented. For each issue, we present the options that were considered, the advantages and disadvantages of each, the rationale for the methods selected for PERCH, and remaining implications and limitations.
PMCID: PMC3297551  PMID: 22403225
19.  A Literature Review and Survey of Childhood Pneumonia Etiology Studies: 2000–2010 
The Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project is the largest multicountry etiology study of childhood pneumonia since the Board on Science and Technology in International Development studies of the 1980s. However, it is not the only recent or ongoing pneumonia etiology study, and even with seven sites, it cannot capture all epidemiologic settings in the developing world. Funding providers, researchers and policymakers rely on the best available evidence to strategically plan programs, new research directions and interventions. We aimed to describe the current landscape of recent pneumonia etiology studies in children under 5 years of age in the developed and developing world, as ascertained by a literature review of relevant studies with data since the year 2000 and a survey of researchers in the field of childhood pneumonia. We collected information on the study population, study design, case definitions, laboratory samples and methods and identified pathogens. A literature review identified 88 studies with child pneumonia etiology results. As of June 2010, our survey of researchers identified an additional 65 ongoing and recently completed child pneumonia etiology studies. This demonstrates the broad existing context into which the PERCH study must be placed. However, the landscape analysis also reveals a multiplicity of case definitions, levels of clinician involvement, facility types, specimen collection, and laboratory techniques. It reinforces the need for the standardization of methods and analyses for present and future pneumonia etiology studies in order to optimize their cumulative potential to accurately describe the microbial causes of childhood pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC3693495  PMID: 22403223
20.  Sequential Rift Valley Fever Outbreaks in Eastern Africa Caused by Multiple Lineages of the Virus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2010;203(5):655-665.
Background. During the Rift Valley fever (RVF) epidemic of 2006–2007 in eastern Africa, spatial mapping of the outbreaks across Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania was performed and the RVF viruses were isolated and genetically characterized.
Methods. Following confirmation of the RVF epidemic in Kenya on 19 December 2006 and in Tanzania on 2 February 2007, teams were sent to the field for case finding. Human, livestock, and mosquito specimens were collected and viruses isolated. The World Health Organization response team in Kenya worked with the WHO’s polio surveillance team inside Somalia to collect information and specimens from Somalia.
Results. Seven geographical foci that reported hundreds of livestock and >25 cases in humans between December 2006 and June 2007 were identified. The onset of RVF cases in each epidemic focus was preceded by heavy rainfall and flooding for at least 10 days. Full-length genome analysis of 16 RVF virus isolates recovered from humans, livestock, and mosquitoes in 5 of the 7 outbreak foci revealed 3 distinct lineages of the viruses within and across outbreak foci.
Conclusion. The findings indicate that the sequential RVF epidemics in the region were caused by multiple lineages of the RVF virus, sometimes independently activated or introduced in distinct outbreak foci.
PMCID: PMC3071275  PMID: 21282193
21.  Relationship of Climate, Geography, and Geology to the Incidence of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya during the 2006–2007 Outbreak 
We estimated Rift Valley fever (RVF) incidence as a function of geological, geographical, and climatological factors during the 2006–2007 RVF epidemic in Kenya. Location information was obtained for 214 of 340 (63%) confirmed and probable RVF cases that occurred during an outbreak from November 1, 2006 to February 28, 2007. Locations with subtypes of solonetz, calcisols, solonchaks, and planosols soil types were highly associated with RVF occurrence during the outbreak period. Increased rainfall and higher greenness measures before the outbreak were associated with increased risk. RVF was more likely to occur on plains, in densely bushed areas, at lower elevations, and in the Somalia acacia ecological zone. Cases occurred in three spatial temporal clusters that differed by the date of associated rainfall, soil type, and land usage.
PMCID: PMC3269292  PMID: 22302875
22.  Rickettsia felis Infection in Febrile Patients, Western Kenya, 2007–2010 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(2):328-331.
To determine previous exposure and incidence of rickettsial infections in western Kenya during 2007–2010, we conducted hospital-based surveillance. Antibodies against rickettsiae were detected in 57.4% of previously collected serum samples. In a 2008–2010 prospective study, Rickettsia felis DNA was 2.2× more likely to be detected in febrile than in afebrile persons.
PMCID: PMC3310467  PMID: 22304807
rickettsial infections; Rickettsia felis; rickettsia; Kenya; fever of unknown origin
23.  Application of TaqMan Low-Density Arrays for Simultaneous Detection of Multiple Respiratory Pathogens▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(6):2175-2182.
The large and growing number of viral and bacterial pathogens responsible for respiratory infections poses a challenge for laboratories seeking to provide rapid and comprehensive pathogen identification. We evaluated a novel application of the TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) cards for real-time PCR detection of 21 respiratory-pathogen targets. The performance of the TLDA was compared to that of individual real-time PCR (IRTP) assays with the same primers and probes using (i) nucleic acids extracted from the 21 pathogen strains and 66 closely related viruses and bacteria and (ii) 292 clinical respiratory specimens. With spiked samples, TLDA cards were about 10-fold less sensitive than IRTP assays. By using 292 clinical specimens to generate 2,238 paired individual assays, the TLDA card exhibited 89% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI], 86 to 92%; range per target, 47 to 100%) and 98% specificity (95% CI, 97 to 99%; range per target, 85 to 100%) overall compared to IRTP assays as the gold standard with a threshold cycle (CT) cutoff of 43. The TLDA card approach offers promise for rapid and simultaneous identification of multiple respiratory pathogens for outbreak investigations and disease surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3122721  PMID: 21471348
24.  Hospitalized Patients with Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Kenya 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(9):1744-1746.
To describe the epidemiology and clinical course of patients hospitalized with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Kenya, we reviewed medical records of 49 such patients hospitalized during July–November 2009. The median age (7 years) was lower than that in industrialized countries. More patients had HIV than the general Kenyan population.
PMCID: PMC3322052  PMID: 21888810
influenza; pandemic (H1N1) 2009; hospitalized patients; viruses; Kenya
25.  Does Water Hyacinth on East African Lakes Promote Cholera Outbreaks? 
Cholera outbreaks continue to occur regularly in Africa. Cholera has been associated with proximity to lakes in East Africa, and Vibrio cholerae has been found experimentally to concentrate on the floating aquatic plant, water hyacinth, which is periodically widespread in East African lakes since the late 1980s. From 1994 to 2008, Nyanza Province, which is the Kenyan province bordering Lake Victoria, accounted for a larger proportion of cholera cases than expected by its population size (38.7% of cholera cases versus 15.3% of national population). Yearly water-hyacinth coverage on the Kenyan section of Lake Victoria was positively associated with the number of cholera cases reported in Nyanza Province (r = 0.83; P = 0.0010). Water hyacinth on freshwater lakes might play a role in initiating cholera outbreaks and causing sporadic disease in East Africa.
PMCID: PMC2911187  PMID: 20682884

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