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Intensive Care Med. 2006 Jun;32(6):823-9. Epub 2006 Mar 28.

Avian influenza (H5N1): implications for intensive care.

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  • 1Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Department of Anaesthesia and intensive care, Shatin, Hong Kong.



As influenza A/H5N1 spreads around the globe the risk of an epidemic increases.


Review of the cases of influenza A/H5N1 reported to date demonstrates that it causes a severe illness, with a high proportion of patients (63%) requiring advanced organ support. Of these approx. 68% develop multiorgan failure, at least 54% develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, and 90% die. Disease progression is rapid, with a median time from presentation to hospital to requirement for advanced organ support of only 2 days.


The infectious nature, severity and clinical manifestations of the disease and its potential for pandemic spread have considerable implications for intensive care in terms of infection control, patient management, staff morale and intensive care expansion.

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