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Respiratory Viruses in Remote Aboriginal Communities

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15 Feb 2010

Abstract: The rates of acute and chronic infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract in Indigenous children in remote communities in Australia are amongst the highest reported worldwide. Furthermore, repeat infections in childhood are thought to contribute to the high rates of chronic lung disease in both adolescents and adults in these communities.

Despite the excess burden of disease, there are no studies that have addressed the relative contribution of respiratory viruses at the community level. Studies are limited by the capacity for the collection and storage of respiratory specimens, given the requirements for freezing and/or refrigeration of these specimens from the time of collection until laboratory tests are performed.

This seminar presents the results of a pilot study designed to assess the sensitivity of a simple, cost-efficient method for transporting respiratory samples from a remote setting compared with transport using frozen specimens. A secondary objective was to assess the prevalence of circulating respiratory viruses in a remote community in a non-epidemic period. Testing for fifteen respiratory viruses was performed using real-time PCR. Implications for further research and the clinical utility of our findings will be discussed.

Kerry-Ann O’Grady

Menzies School of Health Research