Background: During 1993 to 1996, Alaska Native infants <1 year of age from the Yukon Kuskokwim (YK) Delta in Alaska experienced a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) hospitalization rate 5 times the U.S. general infant population rate. We describe trends in lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) and RSV hospitalizations in YK children from 1994 to 2004.
Methods: We abstracted hospital dates, RSV test results and clinical information from the hospital records for YK children <3 years of age hospitalized between July 1994 and June 2004.
Results: The RSV hospitalization rate in YK Delta children <1 year of age decreased from 178 per 1000 infants per year (1994–1997) to 104 per 1000 infants per year (2001–2004) (P < 0.001), and the RSV hospitalization rate for premature infants decreased from 317 to 123 per 1000 infants per year (P < 0.001). The risk reduction for RSV hospitalization was greater in premature (relative risk, 0.39) than in term infants (relative risk, 0.60; P = 0.04). The rate of non-RSV LRTI hospitalizations increased from 153 to 215 per 1000 infants per year (P < 0.001). The median RSV season length was 30.5 weeks. Pneumonia was diagnosed in more than half of RSV admissions.
Conclusions: In YK infants, the RSV hospitalization rate decreased by one-third between 1994 and 2004; however, the overall LRTI hospitalization rate did not change. The median RSV season was twice as long as for the U.S. population. Palivizumab prophylaxis may be responsible for the larger decrease in the RSV hospitalization rate among premature infants; however, the 2001–2004 RSV hospitalization rate among YK infants remained 3 times higher than the U.S. infant rate.