Burden of respiratory viral infections among inmates of a Ghanaian prison

Respiratory viral infections are important causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Information on circulating respiratory viruses among prisoners is lacking, although this is of public health importance and knowledge would assist in putting in place preventive measures to forestall disease outbreaks. The aim of this study therefore was to get the footprint of such diseases that have epidemic potential to be described and quantified for control. Prisoners on remand numbering 203 in a prison in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, were interviewed using prevalidated questionnaire, nasopharyngeal samples taken and screened by real-time PCR for common respiratory viruses in February, 2018. Of the total number of 203 participants enrolled, majority were males (n = 198, 97.54%). The modal age unsurprisingly was in the active working class of 18 to 35 years (n = 155, 76.36%) with 48 (23.65%) of participants older than 35 years. Inmates reported nasal congestion (n = 83, 40.89%), cough with or without pharyngitis (n =108, 53.20%) and fever (n = 74, 39.48%). Viruses detected in throat samples were Influenza A (n = 1, 0.49%) and Rhinovirus (n = 8, 3.94%). There was no statistically significant association between respiratory virus positivity and age (p = 0.118), gender (p > 0.900), duration of incarceration (p = 0.239) and reported symptoms (p = 0.724). The prison population may have a lower prevalence of respiratory viruses circulating in them. This may be dominated by those with high antigenic diversity.
This article is published by Research Square and and is also available at https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7691-914X