INTRODUCTION - The disease burden and risk factors for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (MPV) infections among children living in remote, rural areas remain unclear.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We conducted a prospective, household-based cohort study of children aged <3 years living in remote rural highland communities in San Marcos, Cajamarca, Peru. Acute respiratory illnesses (ARI), including lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), were monitored through weekly household visits from March 2009 through September 2011. Nasal swabs collected during ARI/LRTI were tested for RSV, MPV, and other respiratory viruses using real-time RT-PCR. Incidence rates and rate ratios were calculated using mixed effects Poisson regression.
RESULTS - Among 892 enrolled children, incidence rates of RSV and MPV ARI were 30 and 17 episodes per 100 child-years, respectively. The proportions of RSV and MPV ARI that presented as LRTI were 12.5% and 8.9%, respectively. Clinic visits for ARI and hospitalizations were significantly more frequent (all p values <0.05) among children with RSV (clinic 41% and hospital 5.3%) and MPV ARI (38% and 3.5%) when compared with other viral infections (23% and 0.7%) and infections without virus detected (24% and 0.6%). In multivariable analysis, risk factors for RSV detection included younger age (RR 1.02, 95% CI: 1.00-1.03), the presence of a smoker in the house (RR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.12-2.38), residing at higher altitudes (RR 1.93, 95% CI: 1.25-3.00 for 2nd compared to 1st quartile residents; RR 1.98, 95% CI: 1.26-3.13 for 3rd compared to 1st quartile residents). Having an unemployed household head was significantly associated with MPV risk (RR 2.11, 95% CI: 1.12-4.01).
CONCLUSION - In rural high altitude communities in Peru, childhood ARI due to RSV or MPV were common and associated with higher morbidity than ARI due to other viruses or with no viral detections. The risk factors identified in this study may be considered for interventional studies to control infections by these viruses among young children from developing countries.