Epidemiology and molecular characterization of influenza viruses in Burkina Faso, sub-Saharan Africa.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
BACKGROUND: The importance of influenza viruses in respiratory infections in sub-Saharan Africa has been historically overlooked, including in Burkina Faso. OBJECTIVES: This study therefore aimed at evaluating the prevalence and seasonal occurrence of influenza viruses in children under 5 years old, at risk of influenza-related complications, presenting with influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI). The study also aimed at identifying the periods with increased influenza transmission for vaccination recommendations in Burkina Faso. METHODS: From January 2014 to December 2015, ILI and SARI (2015 only) patients were recruited in six healthcare centers in Burkina Faso. Influenza A and B molecular detection and subtyping were performed. Clade clustering of a subset of A(H1N1)pdm09 and A(H3N2) strains was deduced by performing phylogenetic analyses on hemagglutinin gene sequences. Weekly surveillance data from FluNet (2011-2013; 2016) and this study (2014-2015) were used to identify periods of increased influenza activity. RESULTS: Influenza A and B viruses were detected in 15.1% (112 of 743) of ILI and 6.6% (12 of 181) of SARI patients. Overall, influenza A viruses were largely predominant (81 of 124, 65.3%), with 69.1% of A(H3N2) and 30.9% of A(H1N1)pdm09 strains. Four waves of increased transmission were identified in 2014-2015, each dominated by different influenza subtypes and clades. Between 2011 and 2016, periods of increased influenza activity varied in their frequency, duration, and timing. CONCLUSION: Influenza A and B viruses were detected in a substantial number of ILI and SARI cases in Burkina Faso. Vaccination in September-October would likely protect the highest number of patients.