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Incidence and Seasonality of Influenza-Like Illnesses Among Pregnant Women in Blantyre, Malawi

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  • 1 Blantyre Malaria Project, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.
  • | 2 Department of Community Health, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.
  • | 3 Malaria Alert Centre, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.
  • | 4 Institute for Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Pregnant women with influenza infection are at increased risk of developing complications compared with other adults. Information about burden of influenza in pregnant women in Africa is limited. To determine incidence and seasonality of influenza-like illness (ILI) in pregnant women in Blantyre, Malawi, we recruited a cohort of 450 pregnant women and conducted surveillance for ILI and malaria infection. We recorded gestational age and birthweight. We accrued 157 person-years of observation (PYO) and detected 37 episodes of ILI (24/100 PYO) and 83 episodes of malaria infection (including all new episodes of parasitemia) (53/100 PYO). ILI was the most common cause of fever, but was not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. ILI incidence peaked during the hot dry season. These results indicate that ILI is a significant burden among Malawian pregnant women and it is somewhat seasonal. Studies with molecular diagnostics are needed to establish influenza-specific burden and the potential role of vaccination.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Miriam K. Laufer, Institute for Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 685 W. Baltimore St., HSF-1, Room 480, Baltimore, MD 21201. E-mail: mlaufer@medicine.umaryland.edu

Authors' addresses: Titus H. Divala, Patricia Mawindo, and Osward Nyirenda, Blantyre Malaria Project, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi, E-mails: tdivala@gmail.com, patmawindo@gmail.com, and omnyirenda@gmail.com. Linda Kalilani-Phiri, Department of Public Health, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi, E-mail: lkalilani@hotmail.com. Atupele Kapito-Tembo, Malaria Alert Centre, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi, E-mail: atupelekapito@gmail.com. Miriam K. Laufer, Division of Malaria Research, Institute for Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, E-mail: mlaufer@medicine.umaryland.edu.

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