Dr Sheikh Jarju, a member of the Vaccines and Immunity (VIT) lab team at the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM won one of 58 travel grants to present his poster entitled “Viral aetiology, clinical features and antibiotic use in children under five years old presenting with influenza-like illness in The Gambia” at the Respiratory Syncytial Virus Network (ReSViNET) meeting in Accra, Ghana.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is an acute lower respiratory infection which can cause serious breathing difficulties in young children and deaths, and it is one of the most significant global healthcare challenges, not only in infants but also older adults. children under 5 years worldwide but there is much renewed interest in the development of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies against RSV.
As part of its research into vaccine-preventable morbidity and mortality in young children, the Vaccines & Immunity theme at the MRCG at LSHTM recently conducted cross- sectional studies to achieve current estimates of the burden in The Gambia. This study recruited young children with influenza-like illnesses from the Gate Clinic of the Clinical Services Department at the Unit.
Dr Jarju used a multiplex real time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain (RT-PCR) assay to detect 12 different respiratory viruses in the nasopharyngeal swabs collected. The study showed that respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus and influenza virus were all present in The Gambia with a different seasonal profile and that RSV was most prevalent pathogen. These results were presented at the ReSViNET meeting.
He said, “The meeting was really interesting and gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge about the RSV world. With effective vaccines available for the two major causes of bacterial pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae), RSV is increasingly becoming the next key pathogen to target in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). I was able to make new connections with other investigators in the field.”
Prof Beate Kampmann, Head of VIT, was a member of the scientific advisory board for this ReSViNet meeting, and chaired the first scientific session. She said, “The meeting was held in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in its 10-year history, acknowledging the significant burden of RSV we definitely see also in LMIC. Speakers from LMIC were well represented in the program, and I am really pleased that we were able to contribute our recent data from the Gambia. Promising vaccines against RSV are now definitely on the horizon, including for administration to pregnant women, and we are very well placed to assess them in clinical trials at the MRC Unit, hopefully in the near future”.
The ReSViNET Foundation is an international leading non-profit organisation committed to reducing the global burden of RSV infection. The meeting, held on the African continent for the first time, brought together 250 delegates from 48 different countries, and featured more than 100 poster presentations.