• respiratory viruses;
  • acute respiratory infection;
  • molecular diagnosis tools;
  • sub-Saharan Africa;
  • sentinel surveillance;
  • emergency preparedness


Acute respiratory infection is one of the leading causes of child morbidity, especially in developing countries. Viruses are recognized as the predominant causative agents of acute respiratory infections. In Senegal, few data concerning the causes of respiratory infections are available, and those known relate mainly to classical influenza infections. Clinical and virological surveillance of acute respiratory infections was carried out in a rural community in children less than 5 years old. A standardized questionnaire was used and a nasopharyngeal swab sample was collected from each patient. These samples were tested for the detection of 20 respiratory viruses by multiplex RT-PCR or by viral culture. A total of 82 acute respiratory episodes were included, and 48 (58.5%) were found to be positive, with a total of 55 viral detections; several samples were positive for two (n = 5) or 3 (n = 1) viruses. Ten different viruses were identified: influenza viruses A, B, and C (n = 25), human respiratory syncytial virus type A (n = 13), rhinoviruses (n = 8), human coronaviruses type 229E and NL63 (n = 6), parainfluenza viruses 3 and 4 (n = 2), and bocavirus (n = 1). These results provide evidence on the importance and the diversity of viruses as causative agents of acute respiratory infections in children living in a rural community in Senegal. The establishment of sentinel surveillance sites could help estimate the burden of acute respiratory infection in the pediatric population and should help prepare the health care systems to identify and respond to new viral respiratory emergencies. J. Med. Virol. 82:866–872, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.