Metagenomic next-generation sequencing of samples from pediatric febrile illness in Tororo, Uganda

Abstract

Febrile illness is a major burden in African children, and non-malarial causes of fever are uncertain. In this retrospective exploratory study, we used metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) to evaluate serum, nasopharyngeal, and stool specimens from 94 children (aged 2–54 months) with febrile illness admitted to Tororo District Hospital, Uganda. The most common microbes identified were Plasmodium falciparum (51.1% of samples) and parvovirus B19 (4.4%) from serum; human rhinoviruses A and C (40%), respiratory syncytial virus (10%), and human herpesvirus 5 (10%) from nasopharyngeal swabs; and rotavirus A (50% of those with diarrhea) from stool. We also report the near complete genome of a highly divergent orthobunyavirus, tentatively named Nyangole virus, identified from the serum of a child diagnosed with malaria and pneumonia, a Bwamba orthobunyavirus in the nasopharynx of a child with rash and sepsis, and the genomes of two novel human rhinovirus C species. In this retrospective exploratory study, mNGS identified multiple potential pathogens, including 3 new viral species, associated with fever in Ugandan children.