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Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Oct 1;49(7):1016-21. doi: 10.1086/605570.

Virologically confirmed population-based burden of hospitalization caused by influenza A and B among children in Hong Kong.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, The University of Hong Kong.



We sought to determine the virologically confirmed hospitalization rates associated with influenza virus infection among Hong Kong children.


Patients <18 years of age who lived on Hong Kong Island (a separate island within Hong Kong) and were admitted to either of the only 2 public hospitals on the island for a febrile acute respiratory infection on 1 fixed day of the week in each hospital from October 2003 through September 2006 were prospectively recruited. These 2 hospitals together accounted for 72.5% of all general pediatric admissions in Hong Kong Island with a known population denominator. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were obtained from all recruited patients and were tested for influenza A and influenza B viruses by direct antigen detection and culture.


All cases of influenza A during 2003-2004 were caused by H3N2 virus, whereas 85.7% of cases during 2004-2005 were due to H3N2 virus, and 93.5% during 2005-2006 were due to H1N1 virus. During 2004-2005, infants <1 year of age had the highest rate of hospitalization for influenza A (103.8 cases per 10,000 population), whereas children 1 year of age had the highest rate of hospitalization during the other 2 seasons (95.5 and 54.6 cases per 10,000 population during 2003-2004 and 2005-2006, respectively). A protection rate of 25%, presumably attributable to maternal antibodies, was seen in infants <1 year of age who were hospitalized during 2003-2004 with infection due to an H3N2 virus that had been in circulation. The hospitalization rates for influenza B were highest among children 2-4 years of age.


This population-based study of hospitalizations due to virologically confirmed influenza demonstrated a very high burden of disease among young children in Hong Kong. The morbidity varied with virus type, subtype, and antigenic variants.

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