Incidence and neutralizing antibody seroprevalence of influenza B virus in Egypt: Results of a community-based cohort study
Since 2000, two lineages of influenza B viruses, Victoria and Yamagata, have been circulating at similar frequencies worldwide. Little is known about the circulation of those viruses in Egypt. This study aims to describe the epidemiology of influenza B virus infections in Egypt, 2017-2019. This was performed through a household prospective cohort study on influenza infections among 2400 individuals from five villages. When a study participant had influenza like symptoms, a nasal swab and an oropharyngeal swab were obtained and tested by RT-PCR for influenza B infections. A serum sample was obtained from all participants annually to detect neutralizing antibodies using microneutralization assay. 9.1% of subjects were positive for influenza B viruses during season 2017-2018 mostly among preschoolers and 7.6% were positive during the season 2018-2019 with higher risk in females, potentially due to mothers being infected after contact with their children. The overall seroprevalence among the participants was 53.2% and 52.2% against the Victoria and Yamagata lineages respectively, the majority of seropositive participants were students. Multivariate analysis showed that age and having chronic diseases were the strongest predictors of infection. Our results show that both influenza B lineages circulated between 2017 and 2020 in Egypt almost in equal proportion. Encouraging the uptake of seasonal influenza vaccines is recommended.