Parainfluenza is associated with a significant amount of severe respiratory disease in South Africa, especially among children <5 years of age and individuals that are HIV-infected.
Background. Parainfluenza virus (PIV) is a common cause of acute respiratory tract infections, but little is known about PIV infection in children and adults in Africa, especially in settings where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence is high.
Methods. We conducted active, prospective sentinel surveillance for children and adults hospitalized with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) from 2009 to 2014 in South Africa. We enrolled controls (outpatients without febrile or respiratory illness) to calculate the attributable fraction for PIV infection. Respiratory specimens were tested by multiplex real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay for parainfluenza types 1, 2, and 3.
Results. Of 18 282 SARI cases enrolled, 1188 (6.5%) tested positive for any PIV type: 230 (19.4%) were type 1; 168 (14.1%) were type 2; 762 (64.1%) were type 3; and 28 (2.4%) had coinfection with 2 PIV types. After adjusting for age, HIV serostatus, and respiratory viral coinfection, the attributable fraction for PIV was 65.6% (95% CI [confidence interval], 47.1–77.7); PIV contributed to SARI among HIV-infected and -uninfected children <5 years of age and among individuals infected with PIV types 1 and 3. The observed overall incidence of PIV-associated SARI was 38 (95% CI, 36–39) cases per 100 000 population and was highest in children <1 year of age (925 [95% CI, 864–989] cases per 100 000 population). Compared with persons without HIV, persons with HIV had an increased relative risk of PIV hospitalization (9.4; 95% CI, 8.5–10.3).
Conclusions. Parainfluenza virus causes substantial severe respiratory disease in South Africa among children <5 years of age, especially those that are infected with HIV.