Molecular epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus in Kilifi district, Kenya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • R Ochola
  • MJ Ngama
  • EA Okiro
  • DJ Nokes
  • GF Medley


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes significant burden of disease during infancy and childhood. This study examined the genetic relatedness of RSV positive samples from child inpatients and outpatients and a birth cohort from a rural coastal district of Kenya and also the distribution of strains between these three groups. Clinical samples were collected over a 4-year period in Kilifi District, Kenya from community and hospital surveillance. Three hundred ninety seven of 1,044 nasal specimens from children (under 5 years old) attending Kilifi District Hospital, and from community-monitored infants, were positive for RSV by multiplex RT-PCR. Of these, 376 samples were analysed further by restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) of the nucleocapsid (N) and attachment (G) protein genes. The G gene was sequenced for 109 samples and phylogenetic analysis carried out. The group A samples from Kilifi fell into two clusters based on G gene sequences, while only one group B cluster was observed. One RSV-B sample from 2003 demonstrated the presence of a 60-nucleotide duplication within the G gene, clustering with similar isolates from Buenos Aries from 1999. All had similar sequences to isolates from the UK, USA, Spain, or Uruguay. The Kilifi District samples showed greater than 97% homology to isolates from South Africa and Mozambique and 91-94% homology to isolates from The Gambia. Samples from different sources, clearly differing in disease severity, did not differ in genotype characteristics, suggesting that disease causing variants are a general reflection of infections within this community.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-54
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Early online date1 Jan 2004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004


  • respiratory syncytial virus, Africa, phylogenetics