Despite statistics showing that pneumonia is responsible for as many as 28,000 deaths among children in Latin America and the Caribbean, relatively little is known about the etiology of the disease. In an effort to answer those questions, researchers from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), working with colleagues in Ecuador, studied more than 400 children in Ecuador with symptoms of severe pneumonia and concluded that more efforts are needed to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and low weight (or underweight) among young children.
In a study published online by the journal PLOS ONE, the research team said its results “illustrate the need for an RSV vaccine, and suggest increased coverage of the influenza vaccine” for children in Ecuador. In addition, further attention is needed to the effects of climate and altitude on infection risk, the authors said. The study also highlighted the benefits of the Hemophilus influenza type b vaccine, as no child was found to be infected with that bacteria.
The study of children ages 2 months to 5 years found that the most common viral isolate (39.2 percent of cases) was RSV, a highly contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract of children, often in their first two years. Most of the children who tested positive for RSV were younger than 1. There is no RSV vaccine, although efforts to develop one are underway.
“Since RSV and HPIV-3 infect children in the first few months of life, our findings highlight the need for a vaccine against RSV and HPIV-3 for use in early infancy,” the authors said.
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