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Leveraging the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System for global respiratory syncytial virus surveillance-opportunities and challenges.

  • Broor, Shobha1
  • Campbell, Harry2
  • Hirve, Siddhivinayak3
  • Hague, Siri4
  • Jackson, Sandra3
  • Moen, Ann3
  • Nair, Harish2
  • Palekar, Rakhee5
  • Rajatonirina, Soatiana6
  • Smith, Peter G7
  • Venter, Marietjie8
  • Wairagkar, Niteen9
  • Zambon, Maria10
  • Ziegler, Thedi11
  • Zhang, Wenqing3
  • 1 Medicine and Health Sciences, Shree Guru Gobind Singh Tricentenary University, Gurugram, India. , (India)
  • 2 Usher Institute of Population Health Research and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
  • 3 Global Influenza Program, Influenza Preparedness and Response, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 4 Department of Influenza, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 5 Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC, USA.
  • 6 African Region Office, World Health Organization, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. , (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 7 MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
  • 8 Center for Viral Zoonosis, Department of Medical Virology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. , (South Africa)
  • 9 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA, USA.
  • 10 Virus Reference Department, Public Health England, London, UK.
  • 11 Research Center for Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland. , (Finland)
Published Article
Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1111/irv.12672
PMID: 31444997


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-associated acute lower respiratory infection is a common cause for hospitalization and hospital deaths in young children globally. There is urgent need to generate evidence to inform immunization policies when RSV vaccines become available. The WHO piloted a RSV surveillance strategy that leverages the existing capacities of the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) to better understand RSV seasonality, high-risk groups, validate case definitions, and develop laboratory and surveillance standards for RSV. The RSV sentinel surveillance strategy was piloted in 14 countries. Patients across all age groups presenting to sentinel hospitals and clinics were screened all year-round using extended severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) and acute respiratory infection (ARI) case definitions for hospital and primary care settings, respectively. Respiratory specimens were tested for RSV at the National Influenza Centre (NIC) using standardized molecular diagnostics that had been validated by an External Quality Assurance program. The WHO FluMart data platform was adapted to receive case-based RSV data and visualize interactive visualization outputs. Laboratory standards for detecting RSV by RT-PCR were developed. A review assessed the feasibility and the low incremental costs for RSV surveillance. Several challenges were addressed related to case definitions, sampling strategies, the need to focus surveillance on young children, and the data required for burden estimation. There was no evidence of any significant adverse impact on the functioning of GISRS which is primarily intended for virologic and epidemiological surveillance of influenza. © 2019 The World Health Organization. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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