Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of infant morbidity and mortality and a potential target for maternal immunization strategies. However, data on the role of RSV in young infant deaths in developing countries are limited. Methods: We conducted a community-based mortality surveillance from August 2018-March 2020 for infants ≤6 months in Karachi, Pakistan. We tested (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) nasopharyngeal swabs from deceased infants for presence of RSV. We performed verbal autopsies and calculated odds of RSV-associated mortality with 95% CIs and used multivariable logistic regression to evaluate associations. Results: We collected 490 nasopharyngeal specimens from 1280 eligible infant deaths. There were 377/490 (76.9%) live births and 14/377 (3.7%; 95% CI: 1.8-5.6) were RSV positive. Most deaths occurred in neonates (254/377; 67.4%), males (226/377; 59.9%), and respiratory illnesses (206/377; 54.6%). Postneonatal age (10/14, 71.4%; OR: 5.5; 95% CI: 1.7-18.0), respiratory symptoms (12/14, 85.7%; OR: 5.2; 1.2-23.7), and high RSV season (9/14, 64.3%; OR: 4.4; 1.4-13.3) were associated with RSV mortality. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, respiratory symptoms (OR: 6.6; 95% CI: 1.3-32.5), RSV seasonality (6.1; 1.8-20.4), and age (9.2; 2.6-33.1) were significant predictors of RSV-associated mortality. Conclusions: RSV has a significant mortality burden in early infancy in Karachi, Pakistan. Age, RSV seasonality, and respiratory symptoms were significant predictors of RSV-associated mortality. Our findings have implications for clinical management of young infants with cold-like symptoms, policy development, and research regarding maternal immunization against RSV during pregnancy, in resource-constrained, low-income, and vaccine-hesitant populations.
- community-based mortality surveillance
- maternal vaccine
- respiratory syncytial virus
- verbal autopsy