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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Jul 15;37(2):201-7. Epub 2003 Jul 7.

Winter respiratory viruses and health care use: a population-based study in the northwest United States.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA. kneuzil@u.washington.edu


To quantify health care use among adults during influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) seasons, we identified a cohort of veterans aged >or=18 years who used Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities in Oregon and Washington states as their source of health care. During 1998-2000, veterans accrued 237,159 person-years of follow-up. Using VA data sources, we measured acute cardiopulmonary hospitalizations and primary care and urgent care visits. Differences between rates of study events when influenza and/or RSV were circulating and event rates when neither virus was circulating were used to calculate winter virus-attributable morbidity. Inpatient and outpatient event rates were consistently higher during winter virus season, compared with non-winter virus season. Annual rates of cardiopulmonary hospitalizations attributable to influenza or RSV infection ranged from 0.8 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.1-1.5) per 1000 low-risk individuals aged 18-49 years, to 10.6 (95% CI, 7.5-13.6) per 1000 high-risk individuals aged >or=65 years. Each year, circulation of influenza and RSV coincide with predictable increases in medical care use.

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