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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

Print version ISSN 0256-9574

Abstract

KARSTAEDT, A S et al. Influenza-and respiratory syncytial virus-associated adult mortality in Soweto. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2009, vol.99, n.10, pp. 750-754. ISSN 0256-9574.

BACKGROUND: Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections cause seasonal excess mortality and hospitalisation in adults (particularly the elderly) in high-income countries. Little information exists on the impact of these infections on adults in Africa. OBJECTIVES: To estimate influenza- and RSV-related adult mortality, stratified by age and hospitalisation in Soweto. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective hospital-based study in Soweto from 1997 to 1999 to estimate influenza- and RSV-related excess all-cause deaths and hospitalisation using a ratedifference method. The study was based on influenza seasons of varying severity, provided by surveillance data. RESULTS: Influenza seasons were significantly associated with excess mortality in adults across all 3 years, except for 18 - 64-year-olds in 1998. Excess mortality was highest in those >65 years of age: 82.8/100 000 population in the mild 1997 season and 220.9/100 000 in the severe 1998 season. Influenza significantly increased adult medical hospitalisation in the severe 1998 season alone. RSV did not significantly affect mortality or hospitalisation. CONCLUSION: Influenza-related mortality was substantial and disproportionately affected the elderly. Influenza vaccination for the elderly warrants consideration. The RSV-related burden was not significantly increased but merits observation over a longer period.

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