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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e41507. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041507. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Estimation of the burden of pandemic(H1N1)2009 in developing countries: experience from a tertiary care center in South India.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Virology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The burden of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza might be underestimated if detection of the virus is mandated to diagnose infection. Using an alternate approach, we propose that a much higher pandemic burden was experienced in our institution.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Consecutive patients (n = 2588) presenting to our hospital with influenza like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) during a 1-year period (May 2009-April 2010) were prospectively recruited and tested for influenza A by real-time RT-PCR. Analysis of weekly trends showed an 11-fold increase in patients presenting with ILI/SARI during the peak pandemic period when compared with the pre-pandemic period and a significant (P<0.001) increase in SARI admissions during the pandemic period (30 ± 15.9 admissions/week) when compared with pre-pandemic (7 ± 2.5) and post-pandemic periods (5 ± 3.8). However, Influenza A was detected in less than one-third of patients with ILI/SARI [699 (27.0%)]; a majority of these (557/699, 79.7%) were Pandemic (H1N1)2009 virus [A/H1N1/09]. An A/H1N1/09 positive test was correlated with shorter symptom duration prior to presentation (p = 0.03). More ILI cases tested positive for A/H1N1/09 when compared with SARI (27.4% vs. 14.6%, P = 0.037). When the entire study population was considered, A/H1N1/09 positivity was associated with lower risk of hospitalization (p<0.0001) and ICU admission (p = 0.013) suggesting mild self-limiting illness in a majority.

CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:

Analysis of weekly trends of ILI/SARI suggest a higher burden of the pandemic attributable to A/H1N1/09 than estimates assessed by a positive PCR test alone. The study highlights methodological consideration in the estimation of burden of pandemic influenza in developing countries using hospital-based data that may help assess the impact of future outbreaks of respiratory illnesses.

PMID:
22957015
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3434194
Free PMC Article
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