Open Access Research article

Viral etiology and seasonality of influenza-like illness in Gabon, March 2010 to June 2011

Sonia Etenna Lekana-Douki1, Dieudonné Nkoghe12, Christian Drosten3, Edgar Brice Ngoungou4, Jan Felix Drexler3 and Eric M Leroy15*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, BP 769 Franceville, Gabon

2 Ministère de la Santé Publique, BP 5978 Libreville, Gabon

3 Institute of Virology, Bonn Medical Centre, Bonn, Germany

4 Département Epidémiologie-Biostatistiques, Université de Medecine, Libreville, Gabon

5 UMR (IRD 224 /CNRS 5290/UM1-UM2), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:373  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-373

Published: 7 July 2014



Surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Central Africa began only recently, and few data are therefore available on the circulation of influenza virus and other respiratory viruses. In Gabon, a Central African country, we established a surveillance network in four major towns in order to analyze cases of ILI among patients who visited health centers between March 2010 and June 2011, and to determine the viral etiology.


Nasal swabs were sent for analysis to the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, where they were screened for 17 respiratory viruses in a multiplex real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for all pathogens according the following pairs: adenovirus/parainfluenza virus 4, respiratory syncytial virus/human metapneumovirus, parainfluenza virus 1/parainfluenza virus 2, pandemic influenza virus A/seasonal influenza virus A (H1N1, H3N2)/seasonal influenza virus B, human coronaviruses 229E/OC43, human coronaviruses NL63/HKU1, rhinovirus/human parechovirus, and enterovirus/parainfluenza virus 3.


We analyzed a total of 1041 specimens, of which 639 (61%) were positive for at least one virus. Three-quarters of the patients were children under five years old. We therefore focused on this age group, in which 68.1% of patients were positive for at least one virus. The most common viruses were adenoviruses (17.5%), followed by parainfluenza viruses (PIVs) 1–4 (16.8%), enteroviruses (EV) (14.7%), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (13.5%), and influenza virus (11.9%). The prevalence of some viruses was subject to geographic and seasonal variations. One-third of positive samples contained more than one virus.


Like most studies in the world, the virus PIVs, EV, RSV, Influenza virus, HRV were predominant among children under five years old in Gabon. An exception is made for adenoviruses which have a high prevalence in our study. However adenoviruses can be detected in asymptomatic persons. These finding gave a better knowledge of the circulation and the seasonality of the viruses involved in ILI in Gabon.

Gabon; Surveillance network; Influenza-like illness; Viruses; Seasonality