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Pilot study of participant-collected nasal swabs for acute respiratory infections in a low-income, urban population

Authors Vargas C, Wang L, Castellanos de Belliard Y, Morban M, Diaz H, Larson E, LaRussa P, Saiman L, Stockwell M

Received 6 September 2015

Accepted for publication 10 November 2015

Published 6 January 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 1—5


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Celibell Y Vargas,1 Liqun Wang,1 Yaritza Castellanos de Belliard,1 Maria Morban,1 Hilbania Diaz,1 Elaine L Larson,2,3 Philip LaRussa,1 Lisa Saiman,1,4 Melissa S Stockwell1,5,6

1Department of Pediatrics, 2School of Nursing, 3Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 4Department of Infection Prevention and Control, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, 5Department of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 6NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA

Objective: To assess the feasibility and validity of unsupervised participant-collected nasal swabs to detect respiratory pathogens in a low-income, urban minority population.
Methods: This project was conducted as part of an ongoing community-based surveillance study in New York City to identify viral etiologies of acute respiratory infection. In January 2014, following sample collection by trained research assistants, participants with acute respiratory infection from 30 households subsequently collected and returned a self-collected/parent-collected nasal swab via mail. Self/parental swabs corresponding with positive reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction primary research samples were analyzed.
Results: Nearly all (96.8%, n=30/31) households agreed to participate; 100% reported returning the sample and 29 were received (median time: 8 days). Most (18; 62.1%) of the primary research samples were positive. For eight influenza-positive research samples, seven (87.5%) self-swabs were also positive. For ten other respiratory pathogen-positive research samples, eight (80.0%) self-swabs were positive. Sensitivity of self-swabs for any respiratory pathogen was 83.3% and 87.5% for influenza, and specificity for both was 100%. There was no relationship between level of education and concordance of results between positive research samples and their matching participant swab.
Conclusion: In this pilot study, self-swabbing was feasible and valid in a low-income, urban minority population.

Keywords: influenza, upper respiratory infection, influenza-like illness, self-swab, community-based
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