Prospective study of avian influenza virus infections among rural Thai villagers.
BACKGROUND: In 2008, 800 rural Thai adults living within Kamphaeng Phet Province were enrolled in a prospective cohort study of zoonotic influenza transmission. Serological analyses of enrollment sera suggested this cohort had experienced subclinical avian influenza virus (AIV) infections with H9N2 and H5N1 viruses. METHODS: After enrollment, participants were contacted weekly for 24 mos for acute influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Cohort members confirmed to have influenza A infections were enrolled with their household contacts in a family transmission study involving paired sera and respiratory swab collections. Cohort members also provided sera at 12 and 24 months after enrollment. Serologic and real-time RT-PCR assays were performed against avian, swine, and human influenza viruses. RESULTS: Over the 2 yrs of follow-up, 81 ILI investigations in the cohort were conducted; 31 (38%) were identified as influenza A infections by qRT-PCR. Eighty-three household contacts were enrolled; 12 (14%) reported ILIs, and 11 (92%) of those were identified as influenza infections. A number of subjects were found to have slightly elevated antibodies against avian-like A/Hong Kong/1073/1999(H9N2) virus: 21 subjects (2.7%) at 12-months and 40 subjects (5.1%) at 24-months. Among these, two largely asymptomatic acute infections with H9N2 virus were detected by >4-fold increases in annual serologic titers (final titers 1:80). While controlling for age and influenza vaccine receipt, moderate poultry exposure was significantly associated with elevated H9N2 titers (adjusted OR = 2.3; 95% CI, 1.04-5.2) at the 24-month encounter. One subject had an elevated titer (1:20) against H5N1 during follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: From 2008-10, evidence for AIV infections was sparse among this rural population. Subclinical H9N2 AIV infections likely occurred, but serological results were confounded by antibody cross-reactions. There is a critical need for improved serological diagnostics to more accurately detect subclinical AIV infections in humans.
Krueger, WS; Khuntirat, B; Yoon, I-K; Blair, PJ; Chittagarnpitch, M; Putnam, SD; Supawat, K; Gibbons, RV; Bhuddari, D; Pattamadilok, S; Sawanpanyalert, P; Heil, GL; Gray, GC
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