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Molecular Epidemiology of Respiratory Syncytial Viruses in Ghana

Molecular Epidemiology of Respiratory Syncytial Viruses in Ghana

Project Lead(s)
Research Fellow
Project Background 

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of acute lower respiratory illness (ALRI) in infants and children globally, and may also cause significant morbidity and mortality in older adults and immunocompromised persons. There are currently no effective preventative options available. However, a renaissance in prevention strategies is unfolding, with several new prophylactic options such as monoclonal antibodies and maternal vaccinations that are soon to be available.

In Ghana, about 13% of childhood deaths are due to ALRI which represents a substantial burden on health care systems. Despite this greater recognition causes of ALRI are rarely sought. Also, collection or analysis of surveillance data for RSV is rarely performed and investigations on the impact of respiratory viruses including RSV disease burden in Ghana remain limited and poorly defined.

Here we propose a prospective hospital-based study in selected facilities among children in Ghana using a nationwide sentinel approach. More importantly, this study will improve upon the diagnosis and management of ALRI, as well as establish a baseline against which future vaccines can be evaluated once they become available.

Aim: To determine the incidences and clinical features of RSV in children with ALRI with respect to age, timely circulation, and characterization of circulating strains.

Objectives/Research Areas 

The specific objectives are:

  1. To conduct a survey on RSV prevalence and disease burden in hospitalized and community children diagnosed with acute respiratory infections.
  2. To identify clinical manifestations and risk factors associated with severe RSV infections.
  3. To detection of other viral respiratory pathogens to assess co-morbidity and contribution to clinical outcomes among RSV patients
  4. To determine the RSV circulating genotypes and circulation patterns in Ghana
Key Findings 

Preliminary data suggests that there is a high burden of ALRI in Ghanaian children and determined the highest incidence of RSV mainly in infants. These findings will enable to set up diagnostics in these age groups.

Ongoing Activities  
  • Sentinel Sites Visits
  • Sample Collection
  • Routine sample processing techniques
    • Molecular – RT-PCR
    • Cell culture
    • Neutralization assays
    • Genomic sequencing
Key Publications  
  1. Obodai, E., K. Odoom, T. Adiku, B. Goka, T. Wolff, B. Biere, B. Schweiger and J. Reiche (2018). "The significance of human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) in children from Ghana with acute lower respiratory tract infection: A molecular epidemiological analysis, 2006 and 2013-2014." PLoS One 13(9): e0203788.
  2. Obodai, E. (2016). Molecular Epidemiology of Respiratory Viruses Associated with Acute Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Children from Ghana. 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie. Berlin, Free University. 616 Krankheiten: 147.
  3. Obodai, E., R. Asmah, I. Boamah, B. Goka, K. Odoom and T. Adiku (2014). "Respiratory syncytial virus genotypes circulating in urban Ghana: February to November 2006." Pan Afr Med J 19: 128.
  4. Adiku, T. K., R. H. Asmah, O. Rodrigues, B. Goka, Obodai, A. A. Adjei, E. S. Donkor and G. Armah (2015). "Aetiology of Acute Lower Respiratory Infections among Children Under Five Years in Accra, Ghana." Pathogens 4(1): 22-33.
  5. Mazur NI, Löwensteyn YN, Willemsen JE, Gill CJ, Forman L, Mwananyanda LM, Blau DM, Breiman RF, Madhi SA, Mahtab S, Gurley ES, El Arifeen S, Assefa N, Scott JAG, Onyango D, Tippet Barr BA, Kotloff KL, Sow SO, Mandomando I, Ogbuanu I, Jambai A, Bassat Q; CHAMPS Network the RSV GOLD Study Group, Caballero MT, Polack FP, Omer S, Kazi AM, Simões EAF, Satav A, Bont LJ (2021). Global Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Related Infant Community Deaths. Clin Infect Dis. Sep 2;73(Suppl_3):S229-S237.
  6. Löwensteyn YN, Mazur NI, Nair H, Willemsen JE, van Thiel G, Bont L; RSV GOLD III—ICU Network study group (2021). Describing global pediatric RSV disease at intensive care units in GAVI-eligible countries using molecular point-of-care diagnostics: the RSV GOLD-III study protocol. BMC Infect Dis. Aug 23;21(1):857.
  7. You Li, Xin Wang, Dianna M Blau, Mauricio T Caballero, Daniel R Feikin, Christopher J Gill, Prof. Shabir A Madhi, Prof. Saad B Omer, Prof. Eric AF Simões, Prof. Harry Campbell, Ana Bermejo Pariente, Darmaa Bardach, Prof. Quique Bassat,…Evangeline Obodai, Nandhini Palani, Candice Romero...etc.(2022). Global, regional, and national disease burden estimates of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children in 2019: a systematic analysis. Preprint research paper. Electronic copy available at:
HOD, Senior Research Fellow
Research Assistant
Research Assistant
External Collaborator(s) 
RSV-GOLD III – ICU Network Study, The Netherlands
ReSViNET, The Netherlands
OEDIP Study, The Netherlands
Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany
Centre for Global Health, Edinburgh, UK
Department of Child Health, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra
Princess Marie Louise Childrens’ Hospital, Accra
Robert Koch Institute