Five-Year Community Surveillance Study for Acute Respiratory Infections Using Text Messaging: Findings from the MoSAIC Study.


In this longitudinal study conducted from 2012-2017 in the Washington Heights/Inwood area of New York City, we enrolled 405 households with 1,915 individuals. Households were sent research text messages twice weekly inquiring about ARI symptoms. Research staff confirmed symptoms by follow-up call. If ≥2 criteria for ARI were met (fever/feverish, cough, congestion, pharyngitis, myalgias), staff obtained a mid-turbinate nasal swab in participants' homes. Swabs were tested using the FilmArray RT-PCR respiratory panel.

Among participants, 43.9% were children, and 12.8% had a chronic respiratory condition. During the five years, 114,724 text messages were sent; the average response rate was 78.8% +/- 6.8%. Swabs were collected for 91.4% (2756/3016) of confirmed ARI; 58.7% had a pathogen detected. Rhino/enteroviruses (51.9%), human coronaviruses (13.9%) and influenza (13.2%) were most commonly detected. The overall incidence was 0.62 ARI/person-year, highest (1.73) in <2 year-olds and lowest (0.46) in 18-49 year-olds. Approximately one-fourth of those with ARI sought healthcare; percents differed by pathogen, demographic factors, and presence of a chronic respiratory condition.

Text messaging is a novel method for community-based surveillance that could be used both seasonally as well as during outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics. The importance of community surveillance to accurately estimate disease burden is underscored by the findings of low rates of care-seeking that varied by demographic factors and pathogens.

Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are the most common infectious diseases globally. Community surveillance may provide a more comprehensive picture of disease burden than medically-attended illness alone.

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