Human Parainfluenza Virus (HPIV) Detection in Hospitalized Children with Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in the Western Cape, South Africa during 2014–2022 Reveals a Shift in Dominance of HPIV 3 and 4 Infections

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

The epidemiology of human parainfluenza viruses (HPIV), particularly its role as a cause of acute respiratory infection (ARI) in infants, has not been formally studied in South Africa. We evaluated HPIV prevalence in diagnostic samples from hospitalized children from public sector hospitals in the Western Cape between 2014 and 2022. HPIV infection was detected in 2–10% of patients, with the majority of infections detected in children less than 1 year of age. Prior to 2020, HPIV 4 (40%) and HPIV 3 (34%) were the most prevalent types, with seasonal peaks in late winter/spring for HPIV 3 and autumn/winter for HPIV 4. HPIV 4A and 4B co-circulated during the seasonal activity between 2014 and 2017. Pandemic restrictions in 2020 had a profound effect on HPIV circulation and the rebound was dominated by waves of HPIV 3, accounting for 66% of detections and a sustained decline in the circulation of HPIV 1, 2 and 4. An immunity gap could account for the surge in HPIV 3 infections, but the decline in prior HPIV 4 dominance is unexplained and requires further study.