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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20320. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020320. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Viral shedding in patients infected with pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus in Kenya, 2009.

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  • 1US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.



Understanding shedding patterns of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1) can inform recommendations about infection control measures. We evaluated the duration of pH1N1 virus shedding in patients in Nairobi, Kenya.


Nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) specimens were collected from consenting laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 cases every 2 days during October 14-November 25, 2009, and tested at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention-Kenya by real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR). A subset of rRT-PCR-positive samples was cultured.


Of 285 NP/OP specimens from patients with acute respiratory illness, 140 (49%) tested positive for pH1N1 by rRT-PCR; 106 (76%) patients consented and were enrolled. The median age was 6 years (Range: 4 months-41 years); only two patients, both asthmatic, received oseltamivir. The median duration of pH1N1 detection after illness onset was 8 days (95% CI: 7-10 days) for rRT-PCR and 3 days (Range: 0-13 days) for viral isolation. Viable pH1N1 virus was isolated from 132/162 (81%) of rRT-PCR-positive specimens, which included 118/125 (94%) rRT-PCR-positive specimens collected on day 0-7 after symptoms onset. Viral RNA was detectable in 18 (17%) and virus isolated in 7/18 (39%) of specimens collected from patients after all their symptoms had resolved.


In this cohort, pH1N1 was detected by rRT-PCR for a median of 8 days. There was a strong correlation between rRT-PCR results and virus isolation in the first week of illness. In some patients, pH1N1 virus was detectable after all their symptoms had resolved.

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