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Western Pac Surveill Response J. 2012 Jul 31;3(3):49-56. doi: 10.5365/WPSAR.2012.3.2.001. Print 2012 Jul.

Respiratory virus laboratory pandemic planning and surveillance in central Viet Nam, 2008-2010.

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Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia .



Laboratory capacity is needed in central Viet Nam to provide early warning to public health authorities of respiratory outbreaks of importance to human health, for example the outbreak of influenza A(H1N1) pandemic in 2009. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) procedures established as part of a capacity-building process were used to conduct prospective respiratory surveillance in a region where few previous studies have been undertaken.


Between October 2008 and September 2010, nose and throat swabs from adults and children (approximately 20 per week) presenting with an acute respiratory illness to the Ninh Hoa General Hospital were collected. Same-day PCR testing and result reporting for 13 respiratory viruses were carried out by locally trained scientists.


Of 2144 surveillance samples tested, 1235 (57.6%) were positive for at least one virus. The most common were influenza A strains (17.9%), with pandemic influenza A(H1N1) 2009 and seasonal H3N2 strain accounting for 52% and 43% of these, respectively. Other virus detections included: rhinovirus (12.4%), enterovirus (8.9%), influenza B (8.3%), adenovirus (5.3%), parainfluenza (4.7%), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (3.9%), human coronavirus (3.0%) and human metapneumovirus (0.3%). The detection rate was greatest in the 0-5 year age group. Viral co-infections were identified in 148 (6.9%) cases.


The outbreak in 2009 of the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic strain provided a practical test of the laboratory's pandemic plan. This study shows that the availability of appropriate equipment and molecular-based testing can contribute to important individual and public health outcomes in geographical locations susceptible to emerging infections.

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