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With the advent of highly sensitive real-time PCR, multiple pathogens have been identified from nasopharyngeal swabs of patients with acute respiratory infections (ARIs). However, the detection of microorganisms in the upper respiratory tract does not necessarily indicate disease causation. We conducted a matched case-control study, nested within a broader fever aetiology project, to facilitate determination of the aetiology of ARIs in hospitalised patients in Northeastern Laos. Consenting febrile patients of any age admitted to Xiengkhuang Provincial Hospital were included if they met the inclusion criteria for ARI presentation (at least one of the following: cough, rhinorrhoea, nasal congestion, sore throat, difficulty breathing, and/or abnormal chest auscultation). One healthy control for each patient, matched by sex, age, and village of residence, was recruited for the study. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from participants and tested for 33 pathogens by probe-based multiplex real-time RT-PCR (FastTrack Diagnostics Respiratory pathogen 33 kit). Attributable fraction of illness for a given microorganism was calculated by comparing results between patients and controls (= 100 * [OR - 1]/OR) (OR = odds ratio). Between 24th June 2019 and 24th June 2020, 205 consenting ARI patients and 205 matching controls were recruited. After excluding eight pairs due to age mismatch, 197 pairs were included in the analysis. Males were predominant with sex ratio 1.2:1 and children 

Original publication





Scientific reports

Publication Date





Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit, Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Lao PDR.


Humans, RNA Viruses, Respiratory Tract Infections, RNA Virus Infections, Acute Disease, Hospitalization, Case-Control Studies, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sex Factors, Adolescent, Adult, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Laos, Female, Male