Surveillance at a large school district in Kansas City, Missouri, found that 25% of nasal swabs from students and staff tested positive for common non-COVID respiratory viruses, according to a study today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
To determine the prevalence of respiratory viruses in school students and staff members, researchers tested samples from a large school district in Kansas City that includes 33 pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through grade 12 schools during the 2022-23 school year.
Among the 894 study participants, 639 (71.5%) were students (representing 3.0% of total district enrollment), and 255 (28.5%) were staff members (representing 7.1% of the total). Researchers tested 3,232 surveillance specimens, including 872 (27.0%) from staff and 2,360 (73.0%) from students. Among 2,393 completed surveys, pre-K students reported the highest prevalence of having one or more symptoms—41.1%—compared with 14.0% among high school students.
Rhinovirus, enterovirus most common
Overall, 805 specimens (24.9%) tested positive for any virus (95% confidence interval, 23.4% to 26.4%). A substantially higher percentage of pre-K specimens tested positive (40.0%) compared with staff member specimens (14.1%). Among all samples, rhinovirus or enterovirus was most common (found in 12.1% of samples), followed by seasonal coronaviruses (5.6%).
It is important to implement strategies to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
The study authors conclude, "It is important to implement strategies to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases, including staying up to date with recommended vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, practicing good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick, and improving indoor ventilation."