Epidemiology of respiratory infections among adults in Qatar (2012-2017).
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Limited data is available about the etiology of influenza like illnesses (ILIs) in Qatar. This study aimed at providing preliminary estimates of influenza and other respiratory infections circulating among adults in Qatar. We retrospectively collected data of about 44,000 patients who visited Hamad General Hospital clinics, sentinel sites, and all primary healthcare centers in Qatar between 2012 and 2017. All samples were tested for influenza viruses, whereas about 38,000 samples were tested for influenza and a panel of respiratory viruses using Fast Track Diagnostics (FTD) RT-PCR kit. Among all ILIs cases, 20,278 (46.5%) tested positive for at least one respiratory pathogen. Influenza virus was predominating (22.6%), followed by human rhinoviruses (HRVs) (9.5%), and human coronaviruses (HCoVs) (5%). A detection rate of 2-3% was recorded for mycoplasma pneumonia, adenoviruses, human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and human metapneumovirus (HMPV). ILIs cases were reported throughout the year, however, influenza, RSV, and HMPV exhibited strong seasonal peaks in the winter, while HRVs circulated more during fall and spring. Elderly (>50 years) had the lowest rates of influenza A (13.9%) and B (4.2%), while presenting the highest rates of RSV (3.4%) and HMPV (3.3%). While males had higher rates of HRVs (11.9%), enteroviruses (1.1%) and MERS CoV (0.2%), females had higher proportions of influenza (26.3%), HPIVs (3.2%) and RSV (3.6%) infections. This report provides a comprehensive insight about the epidemiology of ILIs among adults in the Qatar, as a representative of Gulf States. These results would help in improvement and optimization of diagnostic procedures, as well as control and prevention of the respiratory infections.