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PLoS One . Protocol for a winter sentinel surveillance program of notifiable respiratory viruses in Queensland

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  • PLoS One . Protocol for a winter sentinel surveillance program of notifiable respiratory viruses in Queensland


    PLoS One


    . 2022 Nov 28;17(11):e0277895.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0277895. eCollection 2022.
    Protocol for a winter sentinel surveillance program of notifiable respiratory viruses in Queensland


    Shamila Ginige 1 , Elise Firman 1 , Yee Sum Li 2 , Yudish Soonarane 2 , Nicolas Smoll 3 , Fiona May 1 , Ian Hunter 1 , Brielle Pery 1 , Bonnie Macfarlane 2 , Tracy Bladen 1 , Terresa Allen 1 , Melinda Lennon 2 , Jacina Walker 3 , Vicki Slinko 1 4 , Mark Stickley 2 , Gulam Khandaker 3 , Satyamurthy Anuradha 2 4 , Andre Wattiaux 1



    Affiliations

    Abstract

    Background: With the reduction in access to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and changes in testing guidelines in Australia, a reduced number of people are seeking testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), limiting the opportunity to monitor disease transmission. Knowledge of community transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses is essential to better predict subsequent surges in cases during the pandemic to alert health services, protect vulnerable populations and enhance public health measures. We describe a methodology for a testing-based sentinel surveillance program to monitor disease in the community for early signal detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses.
    Methods/design: A longitudinal active testing-based sentinel surveillance program for respiratory viruses (including SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, influenza B and Respiratory Syncytial Virus) will be implemented in some regions of Queensland. Adults will be eligible for enrolment if they are part of specific community groups at increased risk of exposure and have not had a COVID-19 infection in the last 13 weeks. Recruitment via workplaces will occur in-person, via email and through online advertisement. Asymptomatic participants will be tested via PCR for SARS-CoV-2 infection by weekly self-collected nasal swabs. In addition, symptomatic participants will be asked to seek SARS-CoV-2 and additional respiratory virus PCR testing at nominated COVID-19 testing sites. SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory virus prevalence data will be analysed weekly and at the end of the study period.
    Discussion: Once implemented, this surveillance program will determine the weekly prevalence of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in the broader community by testing a representative sample of adults, with an aim to detect early changes in the baseline positivity rate. This information is essential to define the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in the community in near-real time to inform public health control measures and prepare health services and other stakeholders for a rise in service demand.


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